Sound on Sound Review: Jagwar Ma
A slice of Madchester from Down Under
By Alejandra Ramirez,
10:45AM, Sun. Nov. 6, 2016
If Jagwar Ma hadn’t appeared under sun-beamed spotlights at the Forest stage Saturday night, it would have looked like they were recording in the studio.
On Gabriel Winterfield’s right stood a small set of effect pedals morphing his voice from acid-house echoes to cosmic radio delays and Technicolor rainbow arcs. Beat mastermind Jono Ma was confined between an industrial smear of electronics and three Jaguar guitars as he hunched over a cluster of dials and knobs.
Forged in Sydney, Australia, the trio’s roots remain grounded in Europe, channeling Manchester’s psychedelic club scene by recalling the serotonin-fueled New Order and Stone Roses. Their 2013 debut Howlin’ hones neon pop with heady house clashes, while this year’s Every Now and Then could be traced back to the druggy, abstract swashes of Primal Scream. Jagwar Ma brought a euphoric electronic glow of avant-garde experimentalism to their brief 45-minute set.
“What Love” plunged down a trip-hop hole on a swirls of repetitious drones, white noise, labyrinth pulsations, and cloudy vocal layers. Dialing in a hypnotic circularity, “O B 1” re-imagined silhouetted bodies on a dance floor as jagged synths cut through crisp guitar chem trails and Winterfield’s ecstatic lyrical struts. The jangly “Come Save Me” gleaned the Beach Boys’ pancake-stacked harmonies while borrowing from the Beatles’ Rubber Soul.
Jagwar Ma chased buoyant rhythms and good grooves even as they watched it recede in their rear-view mirror.