Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jupiter One debut EP

Originally written for Soundcheck magazine, though not published there

The self-titled debut album by Jupiter One, a New York City band, is electric. In every sense of the word. The crystal clear vocals by K Ishibashi soar above the electronic synthesizers, electric guitars, electric violin and electrifying drums, creating a sound that is complex yet effectively balanced. The signature instruments are the chameleon-like synthesizers, whose impressive range reflects the scope of the entire album.

Like a journey (or more appropriately, a trip), the fiery yet whimsical album opens with a short instrumental piece, “Intro for Ani Enorda” akin to an orchestrated tune-up. From there, with the specificity of Dave Heilman’s drums and the bright melodies from three synthesizers led by Mocha, and assisted by Zac Colwell and Ishibashi (who also alternate with the electric guitar or electric violin), the songs call at times to a disco ball or to Mr. Roboto in all his techno glory. Radio-destined songs such as “Countdown” or “Fire Away” are more than just catchy pop tunes, becoming layered opuses with distinct movements as the instruments build and drop out of the fray.

The crisp, percussive lyrics, treated with such tenderness by Ishibashi, become more extraneous, though no less melodious, as the album goes on (“I never buy umbrellas anymore/ I’ll just lose them anyway”). Vocal harmonies a la Queen are introduced and the focus moves towards exploration with the synthesizers. In “Unglued”, they flutter like a harp then chime like an organ; they are light sabers at the start of “Wrong Line” and merry little bells in “Umbrellas”.

By fusing celebrated musical elements from decades passed with a modern-day sensibility, Jupiter One has an irresistible, unique sound. On “Countdown”, when Ishibashi sings: “And so it
begins” the implications reach far beyond the context of the song.

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