Review of Semicircle Album by Juffage

Juffage makes music by himself, what kind of music however is much more difficult to say. Coming from Leeds (via Chicago) he has done the rounds musically for the past few years, even taking his enormous one man show with him around the States three years ago, before coming to sunny Leeds to gain a masters degree in Music Technology and Computer Music. His latest album Semicircle dropped earlier this year, offering a myriad of sound.

Juffage Semicircle Album

This review is by far the most time consuming review I have had to do. It has gradually been completed over the space of a month at the very least simply because I've found it very hard to think of very much to say about it.

This isn't really a dig at Juffage, or Jeff T. Smith as he's known to relatives, as he provides a variety of interesting sounds, sometimes though they sound too out of place; I also found the album had many familiar sounding moments, yet it's been hard to touch on the very thing they reminisce of.

The titular album opener 'Semicircle' is a heap of Grizzly Bear-esque hushed melodies, erratic muffles and fuzzes which create a grand sound that doesn't distract from the song as much as you'd imagine. The song, and much of the album has a very post-rock feel. The tranquillity and hush of the vocals do hark back to Slint and the apocalyptical melody capture something similar to Explosions in the Sky. The titular track provides a forewarning of things to come; quiet, at time undistinguishable murmurs, smooth yet sporadic melodies, and extensive, but not looping, synths and samples. Straight after 'Semicircle we have '120/140', a short instrumental of gurgling analogue synths that offers us a break from the gloomy side of things, and instead offers a cosmic sound, not too dissimilar to a B-Movie sci-fi film soundtrack or Flaming Lips B-Side, however it does flow into the next song, 'Small Fires', a rolling and well layered song, quite well. In fact, to say how dissimilar most of the songs are, the album flows perfectly from one track to another, and whilst at times a little confusing, the sound is incredibly crisp and clear and the production is commendable. The only song that is really unlistenable is 'Drone II'; starting out like someone switching back and forth between TV channels before turning into something sounding like the Predator giving birth.

The sound is interesting, if a little difficult to get your head around, and for much of the album you get the feeling that Juffage doesn't really know what he's doing, that he's making it up as he goes along. But maybe that's what he wants you to think, and is part of his devious master plan to make thought provoking music, a wannabe- Captain Beefheart of the new Millennium. In future, if you want a one-man band from Leeds that you can just play and enjoy, stick to Jon Gomm. If you're fancying something more challenging, then I'm sure Juffage is for you.


Joe Wilde

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