Bas Jan are a post-punk trio from London fronted by Serafina Steer, who you may know from her 2013 Jarvis Cocker-produced album, The Moths Are Real. The group underwent lineup changes during the making of their debut, Yes I Jan, meaning Steer is the only constant.The group are named after Dutch conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader who disappeared in 1975. LP on Lost Map.
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Here's something that might make you believe once again in the power of the violin. The instrument is vital in producing that extra element of class in this unusual album from Serafina Steer and pals. You may know the songwriter from her collaborations with Jarvis Cocker etc but here she concentrates on writing awkward and idiosyncratic songs with strange word play that veers between inspired and irritating especially on 'Argument' which is one of the tracks in which the songwriting becomes almost self consciously odd. This track, like a few of the others is saved by the squiggly violin lines that emerge out of the vaguely post punk gloop.
Although you can hear traces of the Slits and the Raincoats in this awkward brew, I'm also reminded of quirky songwriters such as Cate Le Bon in the wandering, idiosyncratic melodies. You often have to stick with where they are going because occasionally things flow into like. 'Wilderness' seems to be stmbling into a ditch when the drums and violin kick in and up pops a harmony drenched chorus which is as brilliant as it is unexpected.
There's loads of great ideas here. Possibly too many and often I want to restrict them a bit from wandering off at too much of a tangent. It's good anyway but it's the violins throughout that help raise the album towards the inspired.
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- Yes I jan by Bas Jan
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