Compilations / Mixes
On the basis of Sela, Shiggajon would appear to occupy an entirely different universe than that of fellow El Paraiso outfits Papir and Causa Sui, firebrands whose instrumental rock has helped put the Danish label on the map. Shiggajon, on the other hand, traffics in a kind of trippy experimental folk-jazz that has more in common with the astral travels of Pharoah Sanders, Don Cherry, and Alice Coltrane. Coaxed into being by the shamanistic Danish collective, the sprawling, side-long invocations on Sela draw heavily upon primitive folk, minimal drone, and spiritual jazz traditions.
Flux characterizes both the music Shiggajon produces and the definition of the group itself; changing shape depending on the situation, Shiggajon in one context becomes a small group and in another a large ensemble. For this release, Mikkel Reher-Lanberg (drums, percussion, clarinet) and Nikolai Brix Vartenberg (saxophone) are joined by Emil Rothenborg (violin, double bass), Martin Aagaard Jensen (drum kit), Mikkel Elzer (drums, percussion, electric guitar), and Sarah Lorraine Hepburn (vocals, silver flute, electronics, tingshaws). A simple scan of the instrumentation featured on the thirty-seven-minute recording (available in vinyl and download formats) gives some immediate hint of the kind of aromatic mantras birthed by the outfit.
The opening moments of side one's ponderous “Maeander” establish a heady ‘60s vibe in coupling waves of rustic violin sawing with bells and percussion, the music's raw folk persona gradually expanding to include electric guitar, cymbal shadings, and wordless musings. As the minutes pass, the repetitive sawing grows ritualistic, obsessive even, and as layer upon layer of percussion is added to the dense mass, the music feels as if it's migrating towards India. Just past the fourteen-minute mark, the babble of ecstatic voices rises above the lumbering din to add a Sufi music element to Shiggajon's ever-mutating sound.Though side two's title track begins much like the first, the violin-percussion combination quickly gives way to a more animated and rhythmically driven presentation that, especially when drums, violin, and electric guitar figure prominently, isn't all that far removed from the sound produced by Godspeed You! Black Emperor during one of its quieter explorations. Dissonance and cacophony work their way into Shiggajon's sound, too: as the piece progresses, the mood turns feverish, with the music swelling to an ecstatic pitch until it seems ready to implode. In the final analysis, bridges between East and West are so comfortably built on Sela that the musical universe inhabited by the group ends up feeling all-encompassing in a very natural way.