Following the success of their acclaimed RareNoise debut, 2014's Jü Meets Møster (a killer collaboration with renowned Norwegian saxophonist Kjetil Møster) the experimental Budapest-based trio of guitarist Ádám Mészáros, bassist Ernö Hock and drummer András Halmos once again bridges hellacious free jazz, throbbing hardcore rock and spacious world and ambient music on their ecstatic, envelope-pushing opus, Summa. Alternately calm (the 12-minute "Jimma Blue") and crushing ("Mongrel Mangrove," "My Heart Is Somewhere Else" and the blistering title track), Summa stands as another powerful manifesto against complacency by the renegade trio. "The original form for us is the trio form," says guitarist Meszanos. "The first album with Kjetil was more like a great adventure. This is just us, and this is the Jü sound." Møster does appear as special guest alongside celebrated Hungarian electroacoustic composer Bálint Bolcsó on the expansive 12-minute track "Partir," providing a bridge to the first album.
Another element that enters into the picture to a degree on Ju's sophomore outing is folk music, which can be heard on tunes like "Lady Klimax," with its presence of kalimba, and "Sinus Begena," fueled by Hock's sintir-like bass playing. "We listen to many kinds of traditional musics and like to see ourselves as folk musicians," says drummer Halmos. "Many times when we hear traditional music that is ancient, it sounds really raw and simple, even if it is actually complex. And the music is held together differently than in music that is based on a metronomic pulse. It's a question of being in the moment, so you don't want to control every part."
"For me, it was never a conscious thing to prepare for being able to play different styles," he adds. "I don't prefer any genre, just looking for music that I like and trying to play inspired by them. I'd like to avoid being labeled, as it often happens, as a noisy punk band.
While their first RareNoise release was recorded in a single day, the Summa sessions took place over the course of five days in the studio. "So we had time to find form for the songs," says Halmos. "If you heard us live recently, you could hear that we play these songs more or less in the forms they are on the album but as we use those forms as starting points to wherever we are taken in the moment. Even though there was a lot of improvisation in the process, the sounds of the songs and the themes are there as anchor points. Still, we always try to keep them fresh, so basically anything can happen while playing."
Formed in 2012, each member of Jü is an accomplished player on the Budapest scene. Beside dozens of Hungarian groups, the members have played with such internationally acclaimed musicians as John Zorn, Eugene Chadbourne, Charles Gayle, Chris Potter, William Parker, Hamid Drake, Pamelia Kurstin and Mikolaj Trzaska. As developing musicians in Budapest, they came under the sway of such American renegades as John Zorn (particularly his Naked City and Moonchild bands) and Last Exit, the renegade noise quartet of Bill Laswell, Sonny Sharrock, Peter Brotzman and Ronald Shannon Jackson. Says Mészáros, "Of course I used to listen to these bands a lot. They had a kind of punk appeal that I think of as more physical, so it offers Videosome kind of relief also in a physical way. And we are trying to do that in our own music while allowing for some small accidents to happen along the way that can take you out of your comfort zone, which I like."
"Basically, we are trying to tell the same story again and again which is not written word buy word," he adds. "Sometimes we forget something, sometimes we tell more. It's affected by who and when and were we are telling it but it's still more or less the same story."
Those stories are told with intensity and sheer abandon on the bone-crunching Summa.
1. Lady Klimax
5. Partir (featuring Kjetil Møster and Bálint Bolcsó)
6. My Heart is Somewhere Else
7. Jimma Blue
8. Mongrel Mangrove (for Boros Levente)
9. Sinus Begena