Conjuring heavy drones and sinister garage-psych freak-outs, Stockholm outfit The Janitors have been a formidable presence on the European underground since they formed way back in 2004. Channelling the free-wheeling spirit of Hawkwind with equal smatterings of Sabbath and Spacemen 3, the band are masters of taking hold of a gnarly fuzzed-out groove and beating it within an inch of its life. While in the UK for a small run of shows in September 2018 Fuzz Club decided to drag the band down to Love Buzz Productions in South London to commit their unholy, eardrum-rattling live show to wax. They are the latest band to join the Fuzz Club Sessions hall of fame with the release set for 18th January, much to the delight of fans who always clamber for more where The Janitors are concerned.
Probably not for the faint of heart, their druggy wig-outs are totally relentless and unforgiving. For the uninitiated, perhaps we should turn to the late Hunter S. Thompson who famously wrote: “Buy the ticket, take the ride… and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well… maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.” Those words serve as a perfectly apt instruction manual for embarking on a journey with The Janitors.
They open with ‘Here They Come’, their anthem, from 2014s Evil Doings Of An Evil Kind EP, which incidentally is a lyric in the track. It is a pulsating, hedonistic, guitar heavy plunge into their live essence, captivating from the opening note. The differences from the recording are enough to know you are listening to a live recording, yet somehow only enhance what is going on – the raw edge to front man Jonas’ voice adding a degree of menace you didn’t know you needed until you hear this version. This progresses into ‘Trojan Ghost’ from 2017s Horn Ur Marken LP which has a haunting countenance, with its drawled vocal notes and minor intonation. All things considered, its aptly named as this is the kind of track that gets stuck in your head, haunting long after its departure. Especially this version, again having its elements heightened by the rawness of the live recording.
To follow are two tracks from 2013s Drone Head LP, starting with ‘Do It Again’ which is a track that almost sounds like its in slow motion to begin with; its not, its just incredibly cleverly put together, with competing elements creating a musical drawl that’s hard to explain succinctly – just listen with eyes closed and soak it all in. They conclude with ‘A-Bow’, clocking in at a staggering 16 minutes, its not for the faint hearted but is for those seeking new musical journeys. It starts out tamely enough but expands into a malevolent journey that Dante would be proud to call his soundtrack. Every fan of the band will know that it’s a slow burner, yet in this instance it only heightens the intrigue, ethereal vocals leading the charge. This version sends chills down the spine from the off, with reverberating lyrics taking hold before the musical kick sends the head spinning; its worth the wait.
This record takes all the elements we know, and love of The Janitors live performance, and somehow captures them on records. It takes time proven tracks and adds a new twist to them, making them something entirely different; it’s like discovering your favourite band all over again.