“Techno Primitivism,” eh? In a way, I suppose Juju & Jordash’s music is a kind of primitive techno: an alternate reality where techno emerged more out of 70s dub and kosmische musik than the nascent electro and house scenes of the early 80s. But by most contemporary definitions of techno, Techno Primitivism surely isn’t it. While the pair of Amsterdam-based Israelis have certainly made their fair share of compelling 4/4 dance tracks, none of Techno Primitivism evokes the kind of dimly lit dance floors that, say, “Deep Blue Meanies” might have done. Instead, the duo’s guitars, gongs, and various other acoustic instruments, coupled with their penchant for improvised, non-linear tracks, make Techno Primitivism a vividly colored world, and one that these three slabs of vinyl seem to only scratch the surface of.
As far as a starting point goes, side A of the record charts some intriguing preliminary steps into Juju & Jordash’s wonderfully strange sonic forest, and is one of the strongest opening salvos on an album in awhile. “Stoplight Loosejaw” creeps in with scraping strings and Mika Vainio-esque bleeps that gurgle up from a thick morass of rhythmic bass tones and heavily delayed percussion for a profoundly heady nine minutes. The whole thing then disintegrates into the intense, arpeggiated bass lines of “Diatoms,” which itself gives way to the gongs and strummed guitars of “Backwash.” Soundtrack to the best post-apocalyptic biker flick never made? Whatever Juju & Jordash’s music is, it is evocative and cinematic, and they’re unafraid to use their arsenal of non-synthesized sounds to evoke some very non-techno locales throughout Techno Primitivism.
On an album this vast, touching on every single track would be a bit of an exercise in futility, so some highlights, then: “Shakshuka Dub” is about as tasty as its namesake, with jagged analog bass tones grooving alongside shuffling 707 rhythms and melodica harmonies, while “Dr. Strangepork” plods along with weirdo synth sounds and a foreboding bass line that never frightens so much as it creeps out. Techno Primitivism veers down numerous side streets and rarely trod paths over its first 45 minutes, but from “Track David Would Play” (and indeed I would be surprised if Move D isn’t playing it out constantly) through “Loosey Goosey” we get a top-notch run of dance floor tracks. “Echomate” is a killer slice of slowly arpeggiating synths and some truly mammoth bass tones that seem to jump right out of your monitors and shake all the change out of your pocket. “Techno Primitivism” features some potentially sexual moans, but I would advise against using this one to get your partner in the mood, as its captivating bass line and freaky sounds are as likely to enthrall as spook out.
And then we have the aforementioned “Loosey Goosey”: the hands-in-the-air house payoff for the work you’ve put in thus far. It synthesizes all of the strange tangents and odd locales we’ve visited over the previous five sides of vinyl into an undeniably catchy track — its sugar-coated melodies and straightforward rhythms going down like a juicy house hamburger after so much time spent overseas. The one-two punch of “Shrublands” and “Way Of The Road” sees things out with grainy sawtooth waves on the former and plucked dub guitars on the latter, allowing Techno Primitivism to not so much storm out as amble off into the distance. It’s a tough album to digest on your first sitting, partially because of its length, but mostly because of the vast sonic terrain covered by its creators. It’s easily unlike any other album this year: full of the kind of confidence in one’s sound that lesser producers struggle to bring to the table. Juju & Jordash forgo many of the house tropes you might expect from them on much of Techno Primitivism, never once coming off scatterbrained or eclectic for eclecticism’s sake, and it is that sense of purpose that lifts it into something much more than just another good electronic album. The big question is: where do Juju & Jordash go from here? Somewhere after my 10th spin through Techno Primitivism, I think that’s the point.