In Review: Filulas Juz - 3773
Label: Self Release
There are some people who feel that jazz is a dead genre, one that keeps romanticising bygone golden eras and recycling the same music that musicians have been playing for nearly a century. But many recent albums have shown that the genre is fully alive and adapting to modern tastes. Filulas Juz, a group from Querétaro, Mexico, has recently released an album that fully embodies the exciting new direction that modern jazz and jazz-influenced music is pursuing. 3773, named after the number of seconds the album lasts for, is the result of 2 years' collective composing and is a unique hybrid of such far-reaching styles as jazz, hip-hop, rock, broken beat, avant-garde and electronic sonic experimentation. It is a remarkably ambitious piece of work, comprised of 10 full-length pieces and 10 alluring interludes, which are carefully produced to ensure the pieces smoothly flow in and out of one another. As a result, the music's development feels natural and organic and makes listening to 3773 in one sitting a rich musical experience, one far-flung journey through an eclectic mix of modern sounds.
From the warm but glitchy chords that open 'Obertura' until the chaotic final bars of the eponymous '3773', Filulas Juz consistently find ways to surprise the listener and keep them second-guessing. 'V.R.H.' is a strong example; the listener is taken through series of wah-wah, almost psychedelic-sounding chords, which are interrupted by a lyrical guitar melody floating through 5/4, after which the group leap from a straight, funky groove into a furious breakbeat. This is hardly conventional musical composition. And yet for all its jolting and jeering, 3773's music does feel connected together by a consistent and coherent sound. Despite the vast number of different styles through which the album meanders, the listener is always aware of who it is they are listening to.
Filulas Juz certainly know how to challenge the listener, whether it be through their electronic experimentation with sound objects or complex arrangements for the band. 'G.Y.S.T.' is as close as the album comes to a ballad, however, it is so haunting and smeared with glitchy noise that it hardly leaves the listener with the warm glow of 'Body and Soul'. The following interlude, 'Timeless' is 50 seconds of free improvisation shared between percussion, a tenor saxophone and an eerie synth effect, an instrumentation most listeners will not be accustomed to.
The album does well to balance out these more challenging moments for the listener with pockets of delicious warm grooves, such as those peppered throughout 'Urbanistan'. This formula of tension and release is, of course, a timeless compositional device, but in 3773 Filulas Juz somehow seem to have crafted moments that lie somewhere in between the two. Warm chords and punchy beats can momentarily morph into something discordant and clashing before slipping seamlessly back and it is the sheer virtuosity of the players' execution that makes this work.
Each piece on 3773 is distinct and innovative in how it develops its material, drawing from a diverse pool of different musical influences. The members of Filulas Juz are clearly grounded in the jazz tradition, but here show us some of the exciting possibilities for the genre's future. The amount of ground covered in terms of moods, grooves and musical effects in 3773 seconds is impressive, and the album's innovative composing and emotional depth really make it feel like a well-crafted piece of art. PM