A new multi-medium experiment in jazz
The word innovative and groundbreaking is dished out a lot these days but in this project the facts speak for themselves. Mn’JAM experiment have turntables doing it all from atonal sounds to melodies, rhythms or even harmonies; visuals synchronized in real time with the music; electronics in conjunction with electric and acoustic instruments; live looping and even quirkiness, just to name a few. It’s like being immersed in a live art experiment where conceptual laws give way to superb executions.
And in this project there is no greater “self-inflicted” law than effectively integrating elements from and within different mediums. So when it comes to their debut album (a CD/DVD combo called Live with a Boom) the intention is to hold all of the parts ranging from the audio-visual elements in the performance to the way the DVD is shot, from the set design to the album artwork or the DVD authoring, to the same high artistic standard. Mn’JAM experiment make sure that all these parameters (digital, physical, audio, visual, design, etc) are artistically balanced and relevant not only on their own but especially when viewed as part of a larger conceptual umbrella.
If you zoom in on the music, the multi-medium integration also occurs. You’ll find a mix between empirical and rationally constructed elements; between acoustic, electric and electronic instruments; urban rhythms and traditional melodies, vocal loops and guitar solos, turntables and acoustic drums.
Concentrating on the visuals in the performance, they are analogously a product of pre-composed material and live manipulation, mostly carried out by the guy behind the turntables. He is able to instantaneously control the images using the turntables and a series of pads and buttons thus not only syncing the visuals with the music in real time but also being able to improvise and “comp” visually. And even in the visuals there is more than one agent involved – the drums have triggers (on the bass drum and floor tom) that also manipulate the image occasionally! Overall, the combination and correlation between sound and image makes this performance a clear-cut synthetic experience
Even the set design juxtaposes elements from different mediums. You can find the visuals shown in different outputs (projected and on TVs). The technological elements contrast with the wood (the constant and connecting element in the set), you can see it on the walls, the floor (it’s the main architectural element), but also present in TV frames, the lamps and even in the projection sculpture in the drum room. In order for the DVD viewer to have access to the visuals at all times, besides 2 projections, 20 TVs were meticulously spread throughout the recording studio.
The DVD has a very particular way of unveiling itself. When viewing this live DVD performance you will notice it is purposely composed with a continuous story telling character to it. This can be observed by the usage of transitions and cyclical references. What’s more, the visual material, as well as the way the DVD is shot, expands as the story develops. The visuals become less abstract and more colorful while the camera framing becomes wider and all-inclusive towards the end of the performance. Therefore, if you want to have the fullest experience possible, we advise you to watch the DVD as a whole.
The authoring, similarly to the album artwork, also offers elegance with an edge. Mainly based on the black-covered artwork, it not only shows simplicity but also an animated way of interpreting the jibber-jabber letters that appear on the digipak once you slide the cover off.
Regarding the artwork of the CD/DVD box you’ll be surprised how much it epitomizes the experiment. There are two different artworks both correlated to the authoring present in the DVD but each one based on different tunes in the performance. One is based on the visuals of the head-bopping opening tune R2D2 and the other is an emulation of the Moiré effect (created when sliding off the cover) present in the third tune, Fairytale.
There are many more things to mention like the fact that the DVD comes in 9 different languages with a generic as well as a track by track walk-trough documentary, a “videoclip” that is basically a visual explanation of the compositional process of the first tune, and finally, the option to listen to the DVD in 5.1 surround for an ultra-immersed experience.
Like a book that is still able to augment the reader’s knowledge and perception of itself in a 2nd and 3rd read, with every new viewing of this DVD more and more connections are revealed and deeper relationships are extracted. This experiment breaks away from just being another project that uses poetic and metaphorical delights to describe what they do and is literally a new platform in jazz.