Wednesday, 25th April 2018. 8:48:47am ET
Reviews CD Reviews Alternative, Indie Rock Jute- A Violent Narcotic


Artist: Jute
CD Title: A Violent Narcotic
Label: Catalyst Sounds
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 7/21/04

Located somewhere around the intersection of Hooverphonic, Tricky, Massive Attack, Delerium, and Switchblade Symphony, Jute's debut, A Violent Narcotic, is a stylish slice of ethereal trip-hop. Featuring Julie Axis, formerly of My Scarlet Life, on vocals and flute, the band's sound blends heavily percussive electronic elements, lush synths, and more organic rock and ethereal instrumentation with strong production. The result is an exceptionally strong, fairly psychedelic body of work full of swirling ethereal atmospheres, beautifully emotive vocals, driving bass drones and killer percussive grooves that will leave you involuntarily bobbing your head and tapping your foot while also being taken aback by the album's massive wall of subtly interweaving ethereal noise.

"Southern Exposure" starts things out on the right foot with ethereal female vocals anchored by a slow, trippy bass groove and steady drums and surrounded by a psychedelic, swirling blend of guitar, flute, and electronics. "Ephemeral" is a killer track with a cryptic xylophone-esque synth line steadily winding around a plodding, repetitive bass riff, powerful electronic drums, waves of synth, and beautiful layered female vocals. "Rising of Reason" is another extremely cool track, this time based on a great foundation of melodic programmed synth bass, piano, and steady electronic drums and featuring very Tricky-esque rhythmic, almost whispered, male vocals courtesy of Joe Axis. "Free" is an interesting moody groove-driven number that combines layered female vocals with more semi-whispered male vocals. The following track, "Advent of Zero", is an exceptionally memorable slice of dark trip-hop with reverb-drenched female vocals, one of the album's best drum loops, interesting sound processing/production, and an amazing sense of space and atmosphere. "Darksand" is another topnotch track with a great synth bass low end, some cool melodic guitar work, unintelligible but beautiful female vocals, and a fairly interesting breakdown with bits of peculiar electronic percussion. "Clay" is a fairly unusual and interesting, almost sounding like a minimalist mellow guitar and vocal ballad obscured by layers of additional production, processing, instrumentation, sometimes dissonant electronics, and metallic percussion. "Vow" strips back the layers of the previous offering for a mellower track with wobbly synths, watery female vocals, and beautiful glistening echoed guitar slides/bends. "Invertebrate" is another of the album's best, a return to more straightforward moody bass-driven trip-hop combining male and female vocals, while the slightly off-tempo drum loop and peculiar styling and production of "Narcotic" create a psychedelic vibe that's certainly worthy of the song's title. The album's 9-minute finale, "Opium", begins with an impressive blend of processed sound before evolving into a slightly odd plodding eastern-influenced number that brings in layers of guitar and noise to build intensity and volume until it dissolves back into processed rain samples. A fairly impressively assembled multimedia portion, including lyrics plus the video for "Southern Exposure", rounds out the package.

Overall, Jute's A Violent Narcotic is an incredible album. In fact, it may just be one of the best albums of its kind I've heard, and it certainly far outshines much of its major label competition. The production is extremely impressive, interesting, immaculate, and unique. The songwriting and performances are all topnotch (albeit aided heavily by production and sometimes processed beyond recognition). With enough bass, groove, and organic substance to please rock fans, enough electronic elements to please trip-hop or even industrial fans, and enough luscious, moody processed sound to please ethereal and experimental fans, A Violent Narcotic certainly has plenty of multi-genre appeal. While I'd certainly recommend this disc to most anyone, fans of bands like Hooverphonic, Portishead, and Tricky will likely end up kicking themselves if they pass on this one.

 

Jute website: www.juteband.com

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