Jaga Jazzist returns after 5 years with their new album “Pyramid” on 24 April 2020, where the legendary Norwegian eight-piece band takes a deep dive into post-rock, jazz and psychedelia influences.
It’s their first album since 2015’s “Starfire”, their ninth album in a career now spanning four decades, but it marks the group’s debut on Brainfeeder, the LA-based imprint curated by Flying Lotus.
The band, led by Lars Horntveth and his compositions, took a direct approach to the creation of “Pyramid”. Whereas “Starfire” saw them take the idea of a traditional studio record to extremity, with different members dipping in and out of the booth to write, record and experiment over two years, the process behind “Pyramid” was almost the polar opposite: it took just two weeks.
“The most important thing is that we didn’t want to over-analyze every musical idea, ” says co-founder and drummer Martin Horntveth. “We wanted to follow the first and original idea and keep the freshness.”
“Pyramid” is Jaga Jazzist’s first self-produced album (most of their records being produced by close collaborator Jørgen Træen) and it meant a change in the way they operate. On the one hand, there were lots of different voices jostling to be heard. On the other, they didn’t have an independent figure to make a call on whether something was a good idea. “It was hard but felt natural to do ourselves, as five of us are producers and make records for a living,” Martin says. The result is an album that feels more collaborative than ever.
Lars Horntveth, the youngest of three siblings that began Jaga Jazzist in 1994 in the small town of Tønsburg when he was just 14, has gradually emerged as Jaga's primary compositional voice. Lars, brother Martin and sister Line all demonstrated a strong-willed distaste for orthodoxy - an early reason why Jaga sounds unlike any other band in any scene.
A career-defining moment for Jaga - already garnering a word-of-mouth reputation for exhilarating live performances - was signing with Ninja Tune in 2002. The label quickly reissued the band’s second longplayer “A Livingroom Hush” to international acclaim.
Returning with “Stix” in 2002, “What We Must” (2005), “One Armed Bandit” (2009), an epic live album with "Britten Sinfonia" (2013) and a celebratory 20th anniversary compilation “’94-’14” in 2014, Jaga released their last studio album “Starfire” in 2015. Constantly pushing himself to avoid the onset of predictability common in bands achieving Jaga's longevity, Lars’ epic, cinematic approach to writing has remained paradoxically accessible... singable, even. Still, despite having a primary composer, Jaga's fundamental philosophy is that everyone in the band contributes to the music's final shape.
All bandleaders, producers, engineers and/or busy session musicians, Jaga's members have always been at the heart of Norway's disproportionately large and vibrant music scene. All the more remarkable, then, that five of its current eight members remain from its early days, with Even Ormestad and Andreas Mjøs still here alongside the Horntveth siblings.
The group’s desire to evolve, experiment and improvise matches that of their new label home Brainfeeder, itself a beacon for musical fusion and hybridity, and heralds the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Jaga Jazzist.
Jaga Jazzist's "Pyramid" is now available to pre-order.
Jaga Jazzist members:
Lars Horntveth: Guitars, pedal steel guitar, clarinets, saxophones, keyboards, synthesizers, vibraphone, piano and programming
Marcus Forsgren: Electric guitar and vocals
Even Ormestad: Bass guitar
Line Horntveth: Tuba, alto horn, euphonium, flute and vocals
Erik Johannessen: Trombone and vocals
Martin Horntveth: Drums, percussion and programming
Øystein Moen: Synthesizers, clavinet and Hammond organ
Andreas Mjøs: Vibraphone and chef
Jaga Jazzist “Pyramid” Tracklist:
2. Spiral Era
3. The Shrine