A work all his own
Perhaps the rarest thing in the world of music is an artist operating entirely on their own desires. There are millions of thoughts bouncing around the head of a musician when they create new work, including (but not limited to) the demands of a label, fans or even critics, and while they’re obviously likely to value their own input and creative acumen, the fact remains that they’re generally outnumbered. The artist is almost always surrounded by varied and diverse perceptions of how they should develop their own art. Whether or not the artist lets that get in their way of their process, or ruin it entirely, is up to them. On Terminus, it never feels like jesu is on the losing side of that battle. The music rings out from people’s speakers pristine and untouched, molded exactly in the image of Justin Broadrick’s most impressive imagination.
For example, go listen to the disparity between the opening track “When I Was Small” and its follow up “Alone.” Both songs are absolutely tremendous achievements. In impressive fashion, the former leans close to the shoegaze and sludge vibes of Godflesh and early jesu works like Silver, while the latter is an almost straight up pop song. Somehow, bounding between these disparate sounds only enhances jesu’s work, rather than making it seem incoherent and haphazard.
Later tracks such as “Terminus” and “Sleeping In” tilt more into the post rock formula that jesu has used previously to great effect. The most perplexing of these, “Sleeping In,” uses the unorthodox sound structures of shoegaze and post rock to create a strange, compelling pop formula. It’s something that absolutely shouldn’t work, but jesu manages to drag these sounds into the same boiling pot despite great consternation. The resulting mixture drips with emotion that neither genre readily possesses on its own.
The remaining tracks on the record are (for the most part) much more relaxing. Simply put, “Disintegrating Wings” is one of the most soothing tracks of the year. Though it does rise in intensity over its near six-minute runtime, it never tilts into the bombastic or overwhelming as so many jesu songs do. It triumphs in ways that are at once unexpected and wholly pedestrian, even if it’s not quite as interesting as the more post rock driven tracks.
Terminus is not perfect, but then again it never tried to be. Every note and syllable is constructed wholly by Broadrick’s hand, with no other perception considered. What people think of this record matters little in the eyes of the creator. That willful defiance, or lack of interest, is what shoves this album into the upper echelon. People are simply along for the ride.