Jaga Jazzist

One-Armed Bandit

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Jaga Jazzist’s least jazz-rooted, most prog album to date, One-Armed Bandit is not associable with Tortoise and 2000s-era Stereolab merely for the assistance of John McEntire, who mixed it and is credited with analog synth processing. Echoing, at various points, both bands at their most rocking, Baroque, and searching, One-Armed Bandit dazzles early on. Throughout the 13 minutes that make up the title track and the following “Bananfleur Overalt,” the listener is pulled through a suspenseful succession of passages, like a score to a Mediterranean tropical cyclone, that work in tight-riffing bass clarinet, zipping vibraphone, buzzing guitar, sighing pedal steel, dancing harpsichord, and even some distant skronk-sax over galloping and tapping rhythms that switch time signatures with an oddly elegant twitchiness. Later portions of the album are larded with so many graceless, attention-deficit hazards that it’s unknown exactly what the band (or is that “groop”?) was attempting to accomplish -- perhaps a challenge or, more specifically, instrumental paeans to Frank Zappa and Mars Volta with horn charts.

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