Jaga Jazzist – “Prungen” (Singles Going Steady)

Jaga Jazzist's new video sets up a twisting travelogue that grows darker with every frame.

Dan Kok: The most recent album by this Norwegian experimental jazz group, Starfire, came out over a year ago, but the recent release of this companion music video adds another layer of interest and depth to the music. The song itself is a dense and tightly packed seven-minute composition that drifts between sweeping mystical clarinets and strings and driving, intense electronic sections. And the video, an equally jarring short film made with eerie wooden marionettes, enhancing this idea of duality. The images and cultural markers experienced by the traveler in the video often have two sides that are at odds with one another. The result is a strange viewing experience, but also one that has a perfectly matched soundtrack to accompany it. [8/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Over the course of seven minutes, Jaga Jazzist’s new video sets up a twisting travelogue that grows darker with every frame. Exploring the nature and many contradictory meanings of the swastika is not standard music video fare, and neither is Jaga Jazzist’s hair-raising acid jazz. What starts out quiet and ominous quickly grows frantic. Often repetitive, the music itself doesn’t stand particularly well alone; it begs for an intriguing story to be layered on top of it, and that’s exactly what Jaga Jazzist has done. An unsettling, thought-provoking descent into the maddening cruelty of history. [7/10]

Max Totsky: This track is a definitely a journey, but some journeys are a bit too turbulent, take you a bit too far from home, and immerse you in so many vapid attractions that you become sick to your stomach. Norwegian jazz/post-rock freaks Jaga Jazzist know how to transport you and they also know how to construct tight arrangements, but if this song is symbolic of anything, its their inability to make it all sound tasteful, drawing a bit too heavily on sounds that feel gaudy when you combine them. Starting off with two minutes of metallic orchestration that sounds like its being lifted from the loading screen of some medieval video game, when the bass and woodwind graces the track’s lower end, it sounds full and hits a stride, but then they pile on so much gushing, harsh, synthetic noise that it gets a bit hard to tolerate. This song is a tracky fusion of jazz and electronic-leaning post-rock that can suck you in with its bluster but overwhelms you so much that you’ll be itching to get. [4/10]

Andrew Paschal: If the video for “Prungen” is also your first exposure to the track, then you will likely never be able to dissociate the two. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing, as the piece may be best appreciated as a fitting soundtrack to the horrifying puppet drama that plays out over the course of its seven minutes. The video recalls the seemingly pleasant and pastoral, but very quickly sinister, imagery from Radiohead’s recent “Burn the Witch” visual, but it ups the creepiness factor significantly from that predecessor, swastikas and all. As for the music itself, it begins enticingly enough with some eerie acoustic guitars, before going full prog later on. The composition takes enough twists and turns to keep the track interesting over time, but is weakened by its lack of restraint in some places, as well as the sense that it cannot stand alone very well. [6/10]

Michael Pementel: Taking this song with the music video is one hell of a head trip; together they are as entrancing as they are nightmare fuel. Starting out as chill electronic, leading into a heavy middle eastern laden beat, this song felt like it was all over the place. At times laid back, but then not sure if that’s what it truly wants, it then decides to ramp up the energy; this goes back and forth all too much, creating a disjointed song. [4/10]

Chris Ingalls: From their 2015 album, Starfire, Norway’s Jaga Jazzist keep things creepy with something that can sort of be described as Celtic/Scandinavian ambient jazz/prog. There’s a lot of fiercely melodic stuff combined with unique, skittish rhythms. The song begins slowly with a bit of a new-agey vibe until some weird synths break down the doors at about the halfway mark and suddenly it becomes exciting, edgy and brash. [7/10]

Landon MacDonald: A not really nu jazz, but definitely post-rock track that somehow recalls Tortoise, Air and Battles all at the same time. Flowing through different sections with ease, the song ends at a circular building with pounding drums and insistent electronics like a Monster Truck driving up a spiral staircase. [7/10]

Scott Zuppardo: The Nazi-themed video is surprisingly delightful and steeped in horse toothed marionettes in an action packed scene of a young man trying to spread his father’s ashes but is met with copious trails and tribulations among his travails. The avant-garde experimental jazz of the octet nails home the emotive feel of not only the video itself but the track too. The great news is that the brothers Horntveth are still improving on the sound and never ending cast of musicians in and out of the Norwegian stalwarts. [6/10]

SCORE: 6.13