Neither inherently good nor evil, the DJINN have been heralded in Arab culture since the Pre-Islamic period, located somewhere on a spiritual plane between humanity and the realm of deities. A mysterious force, their influence – essential between angel and demon – has subsequently extended to mythos, religious belief and folklore far and wide, from the malevolent spirits that originally haunted deserts and inspired poets to the archetypal Western genie in a bottle. Yet also, the DJINN’s name has been interpreted as meaning “beings that are concealed from the senses”. This makes the word a fitting moniker for an album which, despite being shrouded in mystery, manifests an unknowable yet intense spiritual force. Their first release – also the first ‘proper’ jazz record to see released on Rocket Recordings – is manifested as equal parts hidden and otherworldly influence.
Formed by the talented musicians of Swedish bands Hills and Goat, DJINN foray into numerous quarters on a far-reaching metaphysical quest lasting the course of this record. “The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper” – thus once remarked Bertrand Russell, he whose very name is bastardised by DJINN to moniker the drifting, hallucinatory ‘Rertland Bussels’. A mighty array of such things on offer within these eight tracks, amidst a soundworld that any intrepid psychic explorer should be delighted to sharpen their wits for.
It’s a psychic travelogue which frequently encompasses full-throttle free jazz – as in the blistering ‘My Bank Account’, with its echoes of the transcendent extrapolations of Albert Ayler, and the more loose ‘Algäbannem’, which nods to the demolition derby that John Coltrane and drummer Rashied Ali engaged in via ‘Interstellar Space’. Yet this is an album of a wild and wilful variety of textures and headspaces – whether entering into astral jazz or new age ambience akin to the later devotional work of Alice Coltrane, as on ‘Le Jardin De La Morte’ ,or entering into Don Cherry-style small-hours auras as on the reflective and hallucinatory thumb-piano-assisted bliss of ‘Fiskehamm Blues’, all excursions into the unknown are marked by potency of delivery and singularity of intent. Titles such as ‘Djinn and Djuice’ might make the listener suspect that a certain levity is present here, yet such self-deprecating tones are entirely belied by the modus operandi of creators who engage with a rare sensitivity and sensuousness in their playing – nodding to the traditions and stylistics of the records they love whilst using them as a springboard into dimensions unknown. It’s a record made with deftness and restraint where necessary, yet also one unafraid to jump in the deep end in search of rich atmospheres and intoxicating soundscapes.
This is a journey through seamlessly blended psych and jazz, who knew such a thing was possible – well you do now and its possible that DJINN have pioneered a new genre in this LP.