Neurosis & Jarboe
Review by Allan on March 6, 2004.
Neurosis has always been a band that I've held the utmost respect for. I won't deny that before I even heard the aptly titled "Neurosis & Jarboe," their latest collaboration piece with Jarboe (Swans), I had no question as to whether or not it would be good. Obviously, it did not disappoint. Furthermore, the product that these wonderful musicians have churned out is easily one of the year's most fulfilling albums.
"Neurosis & Jarboe" is not the same Neurosis that we remember last. "Neurosis & Jarboe" is a momentary side step for the band; an opportunity to release something a bit different. However, it's readily apparent that this is indeed something that has graced the hands of Neurosis (and let's not forget Jarboe, who adds a whole dimension to the music). If one were forced to simplify something of such large stature, "Neurosis & Jarboe" sounds like Neurosis decided to let their ambient, experimental sound project Tribes Of Neurot merge with the devastating, apocalyptic sound of older Neurosis, and the brooding and often mellow sounds of their last piece of art, "A Sun That Never Sets."
Much of "Neurosis & Jarboe" has been painted with electronics. It's difficult to find a decent portion that is free of different effects added to the music to help color it and add a bit of depth. Put simply, the effects are an essential piece of the puzzle. However, do not mistake "Neurosis & Jarboe" for an exercise in experimentalism or daunting sound-scapes. There are plenty of moments where Neurosis conjure up an intense wave of distorted guitars, drums, vocals, and yes, effects. Of course, calmer moments are easy to find, as well as that happy medium. It doesn't hurt to mention that much of the material on "Neurosis & Jarboe" is arguably some of the most haunting and atmospheric music they've written to date.
Jarboe's vast collection of vocal personalities and styles, as well as the attention she pays to dynamics, are an unforgettable element that takes place in this album. The layers of vocals – including whispers, screams, spoken, a quite angelic clean voice, and even a roar here and there – make for quite an interesting and diverse listening experience. Whether one enjoys Jarboe's vocals or not, objectively speaking, it's difficult not to admit that she puts forth emotions far more intense than most vocalists can dream of, and she has strong control over her vocals. Jarboe's presence dominates this album throughout. In case you're wondering, Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly's vocals are only used occasionally as backing vocals, the most prominent song being the album closer 'Seizure.'
"Neurosis & Jarboe" fits quite well in Neurosis' catalogue, as well as Jarboe's. If you enjoy either artist's music, "Neurosis & Jarboe" is a safe bet. As I said, this is easily one of the year's most satisfying releases, and an excellent album to hold over Neurosis fans that are waiting in agony until their next album, or those interested in that artistic output of Jarboe.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8.7 out of 10