Known for their work in the dark recesses of heavy music via such vehicles as KHANATE, ISIS and BLIND IDIOT GOD, it would have been easy enough for the trio of Aaron Turner, James Plotkin and Tim Wyskida to kick out something adequately dark and crushing with the formation of Jodis in 2007.
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Certainly outside expectations of what the group would sound like fell along those lines, but to the dismay of some and the delight of others, the final results were altogether more lush, melodic, and downright beautiful than anything previously imagined. The foundation for their debut album Secret House was laid around a careful synthesis of Plotkin and Wiskyda’s reductive, mercurial rhythmic interplay coupled with Turner’s knack for constructing monolithic sounds and dramatic ambience. Each note was deliberate. The gaps between notes were as important as the notes themselves. Tempos were made malleable. But a clear sense of structure and a dreamy, understated elegance threaded through the album’s seven tracks to produce an alluring, if somewhat bleak sonic landscape for the listener.
After several years of steady concentrated work, Jodis have returned with their sophomore album, Black Curtain. Once again, the trio’s emphasis on sparseness and tension remains in full force, but is tempered by a greater focus on melody and slow blooming song structure. While its predecessor thrived on a kind of predatory patience, Black Curtain’s reserve is more of a salve than a threat. The album opens with “Broken Ground”, where spikes of reverbdrenched guitar sprawl across a humming electronic horizon, over which delicately draped vocal melodies twist, collide and dissolve. Drums occasionally rise from the ether, punctuating the meditative passages of pastoral calm. The band continues to explore the many outlets of their panoramic minimalism across the airy expanses of “Silent Temple”, the shimmering melancholy of “Red Bough”, the hymn-like repetition of “Corridor”, and the mantric chants of “Awful Feast”. The more visceral and vitriolic elements of Jodis’s members’ past work are put on hold for the majority of Black Curtain. But the thunderous low-tuned throbs of guitar and strong-armed pounding of the drums rear their head in the closing track “Beggar’s Grasp”. Even in this rousing close to the album, the harmonious core is retained, and the listener is immersed in the depths of the sound around them, rather than mercilessly suffocated by it. Black Curtain is no doubt heavy – emotionally, even sonically – but its true strength lies in its graceful reserve and reverential worship of gray-skied beauty.