A Final Journey
A chest cavity vibrates to the point of collapse in the face of a furious soundwave. No one ever stood a chance in the way of such force, and, before long, the vicious thrum grew into a furious cacophony, slowly, yet somehow suddenly. On the other end of this brutal sonic assault is Zu, hoisting high their latest act of aural violence Jhator.
On Jhator, Zu attempt to recreate the process of a sky burial or “Jhator,” in which a dead body is placed upon a stone altar on a mountain to be eaten by birds and the elements. The group manage to effectively convey this on their first track through the sounds of chirping birds overlaid atop a deep thrumming reminiscent of the howling wind on a mountaintop. The later section of this song becomes far more guitar-driven and is more sporadic than the previous well-calculated drone. This is clearly meant to be interpreted as the ascension of the spirit during Jhator. The fierce guitars creep up on the listener, whisking him or her to another world before they even have a chance to notice. It is a wildly effective technique that will have a profound impact on listeners as they find themselves in an unfamiliar soundscape quickly and suddenly.
The second and final track, “The Dawning Moon of the Mind,” is unfortunately somewhat a retread of the first; while the birds are absent there is still the same thematic structure of an evolution from menace to wonder. The slight shift is that it is overall a lighter journey than that of the previous track, its tones more immediately palatable and its journey altogether more epic in sense of scale. The number’s unfortunate task of following a somewhat inferior but largely similar track do it no justice and cause the album structure to have major issues despite being comprised of merely two tracks that are nothing short of phenomenal.
Jhator is a triumphant album with one of the most unfortunate flaws that could be attributed to any record. It is near flawless on a single track level but when it is fully assembled it finds itself being less than the sum of its parts. Despite this notable fault, the album is still essential experimental listening, its stellar combination of drone, noise and post-rock absolutely cannot be missed and should be praised for its ambition.