JUJU “Echo de Gradient” c40 (Hylé Tapes)

I love the French – somehow, they just know what’s up. Like, when I was chilling in Paris, I was all like, “I could really go for some art right now,” and Paris was all, “Yo, check out the Louvre, dude!” And I did, and they had all this art there! It was great. (It really was, funniness aside.) And then, one time in Strasbourg, I had this super duper hankering for a bottle of gewürztraminer, and Strasbourg was all, “Hey bro, every café in town’s got that. Sidle up!” And I did, and it was awesome. (It really, truly was.)

So these Hylé Tapes cats, they just started up their label when the clock struck 2015, and Juju’s Echo de Gradient is their first release. I had no idea what to expect from the duo of Adrien Kanter and Richard Francés – Juju didn’t really conjure up a genre in my head (plus they’re French, of course, so anything goes), and the album title made think this was going to be a straight ambient release. I even thought that would be the case through the first five minutes of the opening title track, until the drums crept in, lending the soundscape a nightmarish prog atmosphere. It felt kind of along the lines of a darker Food Pyramid passage, and it was utterly delightful. In fact, it was what I wanted, exactly, at that moment. How did Juju even know?

The funny thing about this tape is that Juju kept going, charting the path of my subconscious desires with wickedly precise ease. “Terrance” followed in its full drone meltdown glory – exactly what I wanted, at that moment. It was a bold move, and it totally paid off.

So I wasn’t even guessing anymore at this point, because Juju just knew. “Miles’ Limes” orbits a postindustrial dance floor, a weird disco/techno hybrid, like Daft Punk and Joy Division getting cozy over a Bud Light Limerita, because that shit is delicious, and not at all a total taste bud violation. The tune was another welcome left turn, though, again exactly what I wanted, at that moment. (But I don’t need a Limerita, though, in my body, ever, ever, ever.

I think you get the picture, and I haven’t even touched on side B, the twin monoliths of “Pas de Futurism” and “Miroirs,” each grade-A prog-psych-drone-experimental astral goodness. Juju is clearly psychic – they know me inside and out, and what I want, before I want it. Well, either that or they bugged my office (which is where I usually zone, tunewise). Now that I think about it, I’m kind of uncomfortable with the idea that Juju’s bugged my office. I think it’s time to do the monthly sweep a little early.

--Ryan Masteller