Fog & Fun-House Mirrors
One of the most disappointing things in life is to see the misuse or abuse of talent. This is when a skilled artist or musician has â€šÃ„ÃºIt,” but doesnâ€šÃ„Ã´t know what to do with â€šÃ„ÃºIt.” Such is the album â€šÃ„ÃºSmoke & Mirrorsâ€šÃ„Ã¹ by Jana.
Jana has a good concept: ambient jazz fused with electronic beats, creating something completely different. Unfortunately, this is not quite executed with the panache it seems they could have had. Instead, â€šÃ„ÃºSmoke & Mirrorsâ€šÃ„Ã¹ ends up being doctorâ€šÃ„Ã´s office elevator music. It is slow, almost sluggish yet sweetly melodic, with unkempt transitions, monotonous juxtapositions of instruments and cheesy synthesizer sound modes. It plods through the almost indistinguishable songs, with the only respite being the guitaristâ€šÃ„Ã´s solo interludes. Jana also bites too much off of the ideas and standards set by previous jazz-influenced bands like Air, some of their songs almost sounding like a loop from â€šÃ„ÃºMoon Safari.”
The album has some positive qualities. Some of the instrumentals can be synonymous with those of Pink Floyd and Rodger Waters. The guitarist is extremely talented, obviously classically trained. The electronic pianist/programmer is also talented, yet makes terrible sound effects decisions, instead of hiring an actual brass section. The vocals are ethereal and Enya-like, though Enyaâ€šÃ„Ã´s voice transcends this vocalistâ€šÃ„Ã´s mediocre talent.
â€šÃ„ÃºSmoke & Mirrorsâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is the perfect title. The band as a comprehensive group is as elusive as fog or smoke, and the original talent of its players is as distorted as it would be bounced off of fun-house mirrors.