GODTET III – A Distillation of Jazz

With GODTET, you’re never really just listening to jazz music.  On the group’s final LP III, get ready to bask in the pure essence of what imbues jazz with that unique spiritual nature that lies beyond technicality.  Headed up by Australian producer and multi-instrumentalist Godriguez, this project has been incredible, exploring improvisational jazz and sampling based production in a really original way.  Their albums, III in particular, bring together the worlds of experimental jazz, instrumental hip-hop, ambient, and even some traditional Caribbean influences to deliver a truly unique listening experience.

III in particular, bring[s] together the worlds of experimental jazz, instrumental hip-hop, ambient, and even some traditional Caribbean influences to deliver a truly unique listening experience.

“Intro” starts out feeling less like jazz and more like electronically infused psych rock.  There’s this rumbling cymbal line that grows more and more throughout the track, surrounded by wacked out guitar lines that dance all over the place.  All of this comes back together once the drums kick in, bringing out “Intro” on a tightly structured groove.  Track 2 stands out from the rest of the album.  Where every other track on III feels organic, “Neon” sounds less like ambient jazz and far more like instrumental hip-hop.  It’s a masterful song, offering up the same kind of glitchy, almost grimy beats over really interesting percussion as something like Karriem Riggins’ Headnod Suite.  

“Sun” brings us right into that ambient jazz energy we can expect from GODTET. The entrancing piano melody wrapped in this UFO-sounding guitar whine that manages to hit the complete other end of the spectrum of electronic production than “Neon”.  Supported by some incredibly laid-back and hypnotic brushed drums, this song sets the tone perfectly for a free-flowing journey through some wild jazz grooves.  Lead single “Cactus Dance” kicks back into gear with this piercing snare beat, enveloping that star percussion with a sparse, yet noticeably groovy piano line, and topping off with reverbed-out guitar riffs to imbue the song with a psychedelic twinge.  “Moon” similarly highlights the drummer, this time with rhythmic guitar that hearkens back more to Caribbean music traditions than jazz fusion. The back half of the track pulls all that energy back, tightening in that focus right back to the core.  

III is an album all about capturing the essence of music. 

It’s a good thing “Moon” prepares you for a more relaxed, ambient atmosphere, because “Film” supplies that in droves.  By far the most purely ethereal track so far, possessing the same grace and beauty of classic Jazz albums like the Bill Evans Trio’s Moon Beams.  Simultaneously though, “Film” is one of the album’s least compositionally focused songs.  The improvisational styles of GODTET shining through, this track in particular embodies that same free-flowing energy of early period Pharoah Sanders.  Closing track “Love Story” is a relative mammoth of a piece, clocking in just under 9 minutes while the rest of the album’s songs measure no more than 4, but it utilizes that extra time just as well as you’d hope.  

Like any of the best jazz, “Love Story” materializes a full narrative in your head.  The song’s first three movements catalogue the energy and intimacy of the earliest days of a relationship with powerful, moving drums and exuberantly singing guitars, before contracting the energy into a space that feels more contemplative, maybe even melancholic, coated in a mild air of confusion.  Through this midsection, guitarist Godriguez trades central melody roles with the piano back and forth, almost feeling like a conversation.  When you first hear strings punctuate through from the background, it’s made abundantly obvious that this conversation isn’t a happy one.  Heading into the final moments of the album, hints of that same glitchy, electronic production style from the first few tracks comes back into the fold, carrying our main guitar lines through a spiritual crescendo to a completed space of fulfillment. 

III is an album all about capturing the essence of music.  Individual moments tend not to linger, but that’s because they all serve as parts of a whole in constructing the spiritual core of each of these tracks.  It’s an experimental jazz album with the free-flowing sound of Pharoah Sanders or later Coltrane, but pulled back from their harsher edge to a place that’s both fantastic ambience and bursting with emotion.  With members seeking out new creative endeavors this is GODTET’s final release for the time being, but it’s definitely going out on a high as some of the best new music of this year.  GODTET’s III releases this Friday, December 4 through La Sape Records.