SINGLE REVIEW: jellyskin – ‘Judder’


‘Judder’ marks a change in direction for jellyskin, it’s still jellyskin but it’s different, somehow more dark, more frankly disconcerting, and strangely more thrilling.

It’s slow, way slow (jellyskin have form with way slow tracks ‘Milk of Magnesia’ for one) but weirdly skittering. It’s vaguely sort of dubbby – the band say “The song takes influence from dubstep (Kahn / The Bug, not Skrillex…) and noise music, as well as the usual suspects (your guess is as good as mine with this, I have thoughts but I’m keeping them to myself)”. It’s quite, shall we say’ drone-y. And in a strange way quite psychedelic, the sound seems to swirl, you see the music as swirling light patterns in your head. It’s hypnotic, hugely hypnotic – there’s no build, it just has these moments where ‘something happens’, things that you wait for (feeling tense in my case) until they happen.

It’s dense but somehow full of space. Listen to this track on repeat and you’ll work out that most of it is just voice, low synth sounds, sparse rhythm patterns and simple guitar lines but it’s the accumulative effect of these that make it dense. And it’s all bass heavy, some of those synth sounds are just a feeling in your stomach.

For much of the track Will takes the vocal role, his voice almost chant-like. Quite what he’s singing about I can’t work out, the overall effect is one of sadness at one listen and then at another you find yourself thinking perhaps this isn’t a really sad song at all. You just catch lyrics in different places every time you listen. At one point I thought I had it all worked out, and then lost it entirely.

The brilliance of this song – and it is brilliant, take my word for it – are the small ‘something happens’ moments, just when you think you know what it’s going to sound like, there’s something that throws that out. One of these ‘something happens’ moments is when Zia’s voice comes in – this isn’t for ages, when you first listen to the track you know it’s going to happen, you just know, but you ask yourself “When?”. This happens after another of those moments, an organ trill, something I have become addicted to, horribly addicted to, it’s just strangely thrilling. There are others – Will’s voice being doubled, a short vocal effect, the lovely vocal harmonies, the drop out at the end. But they don’t sound like they’re shoehorned in just to break the song up at all, they’re part of it.

jellyskin have produced something beautiful, something darkly beautiful, in ‘Judder’. Something I recommend you listen to.

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Frank is the website guy for Local Sound Focus. Takes a lot of photos and loves writing about new music.