Album - new. Release date: 20/11/20. Black Vinyl
Sweet Company is the second album by Jabu. Where their first LP, Sleep Heavy, was an unflinching exploration of grief, dark and disembodied, Sweet Company’s deep, sedative soul feels like more of a lovers’ outing: optimistic, becalmed, looking outwards as well as inwards, and longing for the kind of human connections where ego and self-consciousness might dissolve. It is perhaps also an exhortation to love and accept yourself, to recover a lost innocence and peace – that paradise which has always been lost.
Released via their own Do you Have Peace? label, Sweet Company is on the one hand a very intimate and private-sounding work - the sound of life played out in a room, a bubble, a home, a head. The rhythms of everyday domesticity: listening to the plants, cars in the street, voices through the wall…. going to work, not going to work, sleeping heavy or not sleeping at all. Wavering on the brink of a revelation, of something just beyond the material world, while you wait for the kettle to boil.
The core Jabu trio of producer Amos Childs and vocalists Jasmine Butt and Alex Rendall is present and correct. Sweet Company has the exhilarating sweep and confidence of a collaboration between people who trust and understand each other implicitly, and, secure in that knowledge, are able to give the absolute best of themselves to us. As before, Jasmine’s voice is a textural, painterly instrument, layered and blurred into abstraction, resisting the limits of language; the songs she sings on are portals into vast internal landscapes where the normal rules of gravity are suspended, every sound is smothered in a cathedral-like resonance, and you're both fearful and hopeful that you might never find your way back out again. Alex takes a more narrative, confessional and no less engaging pop tack: as on the gauzy, decelerated 2-step of Lately, with his masochistic, self-mocking entreaties to “be cruel to me […] I like it when you make a fool of me”.
Childs has a true hip-hop fiend's ear for a striking sample, and how to loop it to most hypnotic and rapturous effect, but here takes things to ever more powerfully uncanny and auteurish places, drawing inspiration from the voidal bliss-outs of shoegaze (AR Kane’s amniotic dream-pop epic 69 is one influence cited) and the space-time disturbances of dub, commanding both a raindrops-on-cobwebs delicacy and an immense, oceanic pressure. His productions seem to resist linear progression - instead they move by a kind of unstoppable diffusion, like weeds reclaiming an unkempt garden, or alien flora patterning the sea-floor and coral-caves of the subaquatic level of a computer game which may exist only in your, or his, imagination.
Perhaps it's Daniela Dyson, the British-Afro-Colombian artist who contributes her vivid, energising poetic mysticism to two tracks, who best sums up Sweet Company's ambition and effect: “Me quiero perder en los momentos tan puros en su esencia que Las Horas mismas se detienen para ser testigo de nuestro amor” (I want to lose myself in the moments so pure in their essence / that The Hours themselves stop to bear witness to our love…). For a precious half an hour, we're invited to celebrate the smallness of our lives - and the limitless grandeur which that smallness contains. When it ends, we step back from the brink but things aren’t quite the same anymore: we’re haunted by what we briefly almost knew.