Reviews Nadja Under a Jaguar Sun

Nadja

Under a Jaguar Sun

When was the last time that you experienced an extremely impressive musical project that made your jaw drop to the ground in awe of the scope, execution, and general quality of the complete package (sound, music, record art, record packaging, etc)? Speaking for myself, I know of the last record (or group of records) that I considered exceptionally impressive in just such a way, but Nadja may be the latest wearer of that particular crown with the release of Under a Jaguar Sun.

Under A Jaguar Sun is actually two separate releases in that the CD version is a double CD with each disk capable of being listened to individually on their own while each being halves of a whole; now this has been done before by Neurosis (see Times of Grace and its companion from their alter ego Tribes of Neurot, Grace), The Flaming Lips (see Zaireeka), and Rosetta (see Galilean Satellites) and probably several others. The double LP version of Nadja’s Under a Jaguar Sun, however, combines several of these tracks to form a new animal completely from the double CD source tracks. Enough of the background of the project though, because Under a Jaguar Sun might just be a pinnacle of sorts for Nadja in more than just the scope as the music is rather impressive in its own right.

Nadja surely bring another level to their music with Under a Jaguar Sun, but the compositions that make this project are some of the band’s more impressive material; the production plays a part in the perception of the music on the album as well with some of the most deceivingly oppressive music put to tape (hear the monstrous but simple bass in “SUN1jaguar” of the Tezcatlipoca (Darkness) disc to understand with its swirling bass reverb just dominating the aural space) and some of their most relaxing moments side by side. The one disc, Tezcatlipoca (Darkness), is hypnotic, soothing, and can cause listeners to lose themselves during the playing of the disc; at times, Tezcatlipoca (Darkness) seems almost like a lullaby, particularly “SUN4flood” with the gentle bouncing rhythm and the duo’s soft vocals being place just inside the audible range while at other times (as in “SUN5earthquake”) the triumphant quality of the sound that emanates from the stereo is massive and inspiring. The other CD from the set, Quetzalcoatl (WIND) seems to offer a much more eerie quality in the tones and overall compositions than its companion disc; the droning in both “ocelotonatiuh” and “quiuhtonatiuh” is sonically mesmerizing, and if not for the soft bells in the background, listeners might just succumb to the enticing wiles of both songs.

The packaging and artwork for Under a Jaguar Sun is extremely impressive, to the point of possibly being one of the most impressive CD packages that I have ever seen. The double CD does not come in a jewel case but rather comes in heavy duty book like binding that folds in on itself to give it the appearance of book; full color artwork adorns each of the folding panels with the text (lyrics, personnel, and legal type information) printing on the inside bottom of the book while the two CDs are held in protective cardboard sleeves inside of it all.

Possibly in a few years Nadja’s Under a Jaguar Sun will sit in high regard for its ambition and execution, but the fact that it is coming out now allows people to hear and acquire this artistic endeavor before it might become the stuff of legend or a collector’s piece; the act of searching it out and adding an album with such potential is completely up to those who have this opportunity. Aesthetically, there may never be another Under a Jaguar Sun; and that possibility is fine because its uniqueness is definitely a sight and sound to behold. Nadja truly create a work of art with this album, and although the music might not catch hold with everyone, those that it does sink its hooks into will surely appreciate Under a Jaguar Sun.

8.5 / 10Bob
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8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

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