Review: JAAW ‘Supercluster’

I’d first learnt of the JAAW project from an off-air conversation I’d had with Jason Stöll on Ross Holloway’s 1984 Radio Show back in January, and as promised I kept schtum about it. As soon as it became public knowledge, I submitted a request to cover it and here I am doing exactly that thanks to editor-in-chief Shaman Lee.

JAAW 'Supercluster'
JAAW ‘Supercluster’ Artwork

JAAW features some pretty heavy hitters in the underground music scene including Andy Cairns of Therapy?, the aforementioned Jason Stöll (KLÄMP/Sex Swing/Twin Sister), Wayne Adams (Death Pedals/Big Lad/Petbrick) and Adam Betts (Three Trapped Tigers/Goldie/Squarepusher). With names like that, expectations are at fever-pitch levels, and this is only intensified with the awesomely trippy LSD-inspired artwork of Drew Millward, the involvement of Nirvana photographer Steve Gullick for the promotional shots and the great James Plotkin for mastering the whole thing.

Thoughts And Prayers (Mean Nothing) tips its hat to the twisted psychedelic noise-rock of Helios Creed but with The Stooges style punch in a fashion that reminds me of the much-missed Comets On Fire. It’s the kind of track you’d expect to find the likes of GNOD, or indeed any number of Rocket Recordings outfits, performing, which is why I was surprised that Supercluster was being released by Finnish label Svart Records. A fantastic opener regardless.

Reality Crash is a little more controlled and Industrial led recalling Ministry’s sludgier moments ala Filth Pig but also the Butthole Surfers idiosyncrasies from around the Electriclarryland period, especially the track Pepper. A rather wonderful number that will have you giddy with nostalgia.

Rot has a darker post-punk vibe ala Killing Joke, the Jaz Coleman vocal stylings are both terrifying and disturbing, making the track more than aptly named. I also detected some Unsane influences too which could easily have soundtracked the Lower East Side (New York) of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s when that city was a little hairier to say the least. The perfect sound for urban decay.

recalling Ministry’s sludgier moments ala Filth Pig but also the Butthole Surfers idiosyncrasies from around the Electriclarryland period…

Total Protonic Reversal marks the record’s halfway point and isn’t far removed from what Therapy? did pre-Nurse on the Babyteeth and Pleasure Death EP, both of which were Big Black inspired and Bring Home the Motherlode, Barry is the album’s longest track at well over eight minutes as well as its densest. It takes a couple of listens to fully absorb and has you thinking both of Godflesh when they started adopting more of a post-metal approach as well as Tom Warrior’s post Celtic Frost outfit Apollyon Sun. An epic and brooding beast of a track.

Helios Creed once again makes his presence known, but this time with a hardcore-punk punch on the blistering Hellbent On Happiness, while The Dead Drop is one of the most soulful sounding songs on the album where the listener is reminded of Gary Numan from around the time he first started discovering Nine Inch Nails.

Army Of Me is a cover of the Björk classic which Shaman regulars may remember was previously covered rather brilliantly by Helmet. JAAW‘s interpretation is a little more ramshackle (in a good sense) but no less powerful and much like a recently unearthed time capsule from around the mid to late ’90s. The track concludes the album on a more direct and comfortingly familiar sounding note.

Despite hating football with a passion, I will attempt to reference it as a way of describing JAAW. Imagine four George Bests in a band and you should get the picture as to how super this er, supergroup really is. An album that both rocks but is also bewitching and that requires, no demands, repeated listening.

Label: Svart Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills