A lot of bands profess to push the boundaries of musicality, to take the conventions of songwriting in new and innovative directions. But let’s face it, the format has hardly changed for the last half century. Whether it’s electronic or acoustic, dubstep or death metal the line-up changes little with a strong focus upon melody remaining central and the rhythm section relegated to holding everything together without the glory of being centre stage. Enter Jazzhands.
So here’s the deal. Jazzhands don’t have a guitarist, they don’t have any synths or keyboards or luscious three part harmonies. Instead, three drummers form the back bone of their crazy ‘noise-rock’ sound, creating polyrhythms that make dancing a delicate balance between keeping up with the constant changes in time signature and trying not to look like too much of a tit. Add dirty, driven bass and piercing saxophone to the mix and the result is a unique aural assault that’ll leave you feeling like you’ve been mugged. It sounds like it shouldn’t work doesn’t it? Like the whole mix might be missing the very elements that make music memorable, some hook to hum or chorus to cling on to. Yet somehow, the extravagance, the joy, the wall of sound they create, can’t help but bring a smile to your face. The whole thing is ridiculous, but that’s what makes it brilliant. Jazzhands are not a band that take themselves too seriously and that’s refreshing. It’s difficult to describe their sound and to do it justice. So watch and judge for yourself.
Don’t be mis-led. Bassist, George Yelding (who occasionally adds his raucous vocals to the mix) and his accomplices, Joe, Finney, Carl, Dom and Jonathan, are all serious musicians with immeasurable talent and a passion for making music. You only need to look at the bands list of other projects to see that melody and musicality flows freely from every orifice possible. From the minimal r&b/hip hop of Coffee and Cakes For Funerals to the lo-fi fuzz pop of buzz band Death At Sea and the countless other employers that adorn their CV’s, this is a band with serious credentials. More than that, creating the chaotic clatter and fuzz that Jazzhands produce takes precision and work. The intricate drum rhythms weave in and out of each other whilst the stabs of saxophone provide a counter-rhythm over the complex bass lines. It’s live that the whole Jazzhands experience really comes alive with performances as extravagant as their tunes. It’s a mess of arms and flailing limbs, concentration mixed with an ecstatic grins, gurns and pained expressions. At the moment, in Liverpool at least, there’s no act more visually exciting to see.
Artist Francis Bacon was a fan of mess, preferring his studio to remain cluttered with the remnants of his materials. To Bacon this was not mess but “deeply ordered chaos” and that’s a phrase that seems particularly fitting for Jazzhands. Deeply Ordered Chaos.