Jesu: Pale Sketches Demixed
Ghostly International and Justin Broadrick would appear, on paper at least, to be strange bedfellows, given the artist's involvment in the industrial-metal outfit Godflesh, UK grindcore band Napalm Death, apocalyptic dub outfit Techno Animal (with Kevin Martin of The Bug and King Midas Sound), not to mention his his own solo shoegaze-metal project Jesu. But Jesu: Pale Sketches Demixed presents a wholly different side of Broadrick's musical endeavours, with the producer revisiting songs released on the 2007 Jesu album Pale Sketches and putting the emphasis on synthesizers and drum machines. What it amounts to, in essence, is a brand new alias, with Jesu: Pale Sketches Demixed, formally speaking, Broadrick's debut full-length under the Pale Sketcher name.
Hypnotic opener “Don't Dream It (Mirage Mix)” underlays stately piano playing and a huge synthesizer throb with a lazy head-nodding pulse that coats the track with an equally epic and slow-burning aura. True to its title, “The Playgrounds Are Empty (Slumber Mix)” slows things down to a sleep-inducing tempo, though there's little chance of that happening when the mix is so texture-heavy and the church-like arrangement of organ and humming voices so alluring. “Tiny Universe (Interstellar)” is suitably spacey in its hip-swaying blend of astral synthesizers, chiming guitars, echoing drums, and dub-flavoured bass lines. There are more surprises: the material at times verges on an epic variant of ambient-shoegaze in the Manual mold—check out “Can I Go Now (Gone Version)” as one sterling example, where Broadrick even adds breathy vocals to elevate the song's wooze to an even more grandiose level. And Broadrick listeners of long standing might be taken aback by just how jubilant “Dummy (Bahnhoff Version)” sounds when its Kraftwerk keyboards chime so blissfully.
Broadrick's music is known for its heaviness, but Jesu: Pale Sketches Demixed isn't heavy in the guitar-crushing sense but in density and epic design. The album's eight songs are maximal on production grounds, with multiple layers of keyboards and beats woven into reverberant, melancholy mood-pieces. The recent surge of attention in Oneohtrix Point Never and all things Hypnagogic suggests that Broadrick might be in a prime position to siphon off a bit of that interest and re-direct it towards his own Pale Sketcher project. It's certainly music that deserves to be heard.