Jjulius Volume 2
- Mammas Mysteriska Jukebox
- 27th September 2022
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- LP - black vinyl
In the occasionally sun-dappled, breezy harbour town of Gothenburg, Sweden, Julius Pierstorff and Erin Engström’s cottage industry continues to shine light on maverick talents. This time it’s Pierstorff’s own Jjulius project and in contrast to his previous work on Volume 1 or his duo with Engström it’s remarkably clear, structurally sound and dives head first into a new, ragged Psyche sound that feels like is always been there in the music, latent and ready. Volume 2 is released on the Mammas Mysteriska Jukebox label (which is, of course, the vessel for almost all of this duo’s creative endeavours) and points to a new development for all involved. Volume 2 reaches into new territory streets ahead of the decidedly homespun, weary, gloomy anti-charm offensive of Volume 1 (which we freaking LOVE by the way).
Volume 2 remains on the home recorded / lo-fi spectrum as Volume 1 (and Monokultur or Pierstorff’s Garage punk group Skiftande Enheter) but seems like it’s blown out into the stereofield for an all encompassing psychedelic listening experience. There’s even live drums goddamn it. It feels a little like there’s some more polish applied to the craft and it suits it beautifully. Opener En världslig sak, with its drunk piano struggling to stay in tune with itself, soon falls into a doomed ballad boosted by synth bass and dub effects. Everything is in its right place for maximum effect, the way the piano keys drift out and out before the band kicks in for Nästan kär signals a gear shift in Pierstorff’s careering go-kart. Here the sound approximates the brooding bass and drum attack of Melbournites Total Control alternating with a touching-groovy verse smothered in slobbering saxophone and echo. Single Du aldrig märker dissipates into space, 70s drum machine and synths fluttering on the opening road in front before collaborator Clara Flygare’s live drums and Vox-duet with Jjulius takes the track into lush modern psyche territory. If we were being geographically uncouth we’d say it has a distinct krautrock feel, with rhythms and percussion playing out, but we’re classier than that.
While Volume 1 seemed somewhat like an audio diary kept by the artist in between shifts at work, or whatever it is artists do when they’re not chained to the mixing desk, Volume 2 has much more of an album feel. There are constants running through the tracks, the bass playing in particular has a permanence that only breaks to bring in some pretty catchy hooks, all told. Guitars are twisted into elongated shapes with tremolo, phaser, delay, distortion, kitchen sinks while Jjulius’s vocal performances remain in the lower register, glowering and menacing with flashes of humour in the intonation (despite the amount of Swedish music we sell we still don’t really know the language), taking in sinister tones on Dom hör dig men dom lyssnar inte but ceding control to Flygare on ening åt oss alla for a charming version of post-punk, goth indie pop melange with rhythm box and violin.
Maybe calling the album “Volume 2” points to this body of work being a snapshot to where Jjulius and his collaborators are at this moment of time but really it feels like a solid narrative piece, an almost relentlessly charming record that borrows tropes and techniques from almost every imaginable Western DIY music culture from the 60s to the 90s. What Pierstorff does with all of the information and influence is create the best long player of his career, with any of his projects.
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