Jahcoozi, a dub-inflected electro-soul trio with members
from Berlin, London-via-Sri Lanka and Tel Aviv, juxtaposes earthy sensuality with
the chilled precision of machinery on this third full-length. Sasha Perera, the
main vocalist, plies a rich, jazzy contralto atop blips and buzzes and
bottom-heavy bass and sub-bass (that’s Oren Gerlitz). Third member Robert Koch cooks up beats that seethe
and simmer, but don’t often bubble over. Sinuous, syncopated and subtle, these
are rhythms that go straight to your hips.
“Barefoot Dub”, the album’s lead-off track, cuts to the
heart of the matter with a big, backslanting reggae beat that, as the lyric
notes, is all about “stripping it down to the basic lumber.” Against this
backdrop, Perera sounds a bit like Shirley Bassey, that is, sexy, soulful and
sure of herself. “Skank with your hands, throw off your shoes, it’s a cloud of
dust, from which we shall rise” she concludes, her voice splintering into
reverbed echos, in a cut that advocates the pure and natural (going barefoot),
while interspersing eerie space-age sounds. “Lost in the Bass” works the dub-splicing,
electro-chilling vibe, its warm, lilting melody backed by the scratchy and echo
of reggae production. “Read the Books,” the most minimally arranged of these
cuts, is lyrically the most striking, as Perera urges listeners to read, listen
and think what other people are not.
A smattering of guests alters the basic pattern somewhat
with Anti Pop Consortium’s M. Sayyid bringing out the abrasive power in
Jahcoozi’s beats, and pop singer Barbara Panther elicting the smooth sway of
quiet storm R&B. Kenyan dancehall star Ukoo Flani makes a striking
statement in “Msoto Millions,” bracing Jahcoozi’s beats with the heat and
passion of good protest music.
The extra “h” in Jahcoozi puts god in a hot tub, which is
maybe a metaphor for the way that the band blends the sensual with the
spiritual, the machine with the soul. These are body moving tunes that open a
window to the sublime…not a bad trick at all.
Standout Tracks: “Barefoot Dub” “Lost in the Bass” “Msoto Millions (featuring Ukoo Flani)” JENNIFER KELLY