Jo & Jo and Jose - "Bluebeards Castle"
(Szum Music 2002, ORBIT 2)

From Aural Innovations #20 (July 2002)

Jo & Jo's first release, Horst - The Planets (see AI #14), told the musical story of two travelers trekking among the 5 planets of their solar system. Jo & Jo are back, with the addition of Jose, with another concept album that tells us the story of Bluebeard and his umteenth wife Judith (by Bellow Bartalk!). The music is similar to that heard on Horst - The Planets, but the recording sounds much better and the music a bit fuller (perhaps due to the addition of Jose?). Space electronics are combined with acoustic and electric guitars to create a continuous improvised work that does a damn good job of evolving through a succession of themes that communicate the parts of the story as Bluebeard opens the seven doors for Judith, presenting the Torture Chamber, Armoury, Treasury, and so on. The music can be highly cosmic, harshly acidic, and heavily influenced by a free-improv aesthetic. No surprise given that these folks are associated with Szum label mates Automatic Music. I also hear a lot of the similarities to the Residents that I heard on their first album, particularly the early Residents stuff that included that dirty but much loved (by me anyway) Snakefinger guitar. In fact, there are lots of very cool guitar and electronics combos, including some excellent avant-rockin full band jams with bass and percussion and... by golly did I hear a banjo? Of course nothing stays the same very long but transitions smoothly through its parade of themes. The music plays as one continuous 46 minute track and is followed by a short dirty Blues tune that sounds like it would fit nicely on an Automatic Music album. Hmmmmmmmm.....

Overall, Bluebeards Castle is a good fun combination of avant-rock, free-improv, and cosmic space. The band easily held my attention throughout with their continual changes of theme and musical direction, yet manage to retain cohesion from beginning to end. I enjoyed Horst - The Planets, but Bluebeards Castle is definitely a step ahead.

For more information you can visit the Szum Music web site at:
Contact via snail mail c/o Szum Music; PO Box 4174; Archdale, NC 27263.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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