There’s hype and then there’s Jagwar Ma. Here is a band that not only deserves the hype, but is comprised of two guys that came from two other bands who, if you rewind the clock five years, also received plenty of hype. When you think about it that way, Jawar Ma members Gabriel Winterfield and Jono Ma, ex-Ghostwood and Valentinos respectively, are like hype squared. They are krypto-hype. Because seriously, when you spent most of your young life being told you were the Next Big Thing, signed a record deal before you knew if you actually liked your signature yet (Gabriel was still in highschool when Ghostwood signed with Modular) and then promptly disappeared off the map, there’s only one way you can properly deal with it – actually become the Next Big Thing. Jagwar Ma have been threatening their full takeover of our ears, hearts and minds for quite a while now, since teasing the world with their excellent retro-tinged single, ‘Come Save Me.’ That song was cool, but this song is stone cold unbelievable. When Flight Facilities’ Hugo Gruzman told us at the tail-end of 2011 that Jagwar Ma were going to creep their way into everyone’s brains, we didn’t know what to make of it. “Give it time,” he said. “Everyone will know it.” Evidently we need to get that guy to buy stocks for us.
From the rib bones of Adam, God created Eve, and from the ashes of noughties angular electro-rock, Jono Ma created his new, shape-shifting project. ‘The Throw’, all seven, glorious minutes of it, is a particularly compelling piece of music. It writhes and shifts shape almost from the outset, doing it so subtly and intelligently that you’ve gone from floating, psych-house to deep, deep acid rave territory without so much as batting an eyelid. As much as it’s about the musical ideas and the grooves, what really strikes you about ‘The Throw’ is the quality of the sound. When he’s not writing, Ma spends most of his time producing and mixing for the likes of Last Dinosuars or messing around in the studio. His wizardry is widely discussed and rapidly verging on peerless, and that’s something that really comes across in the quality of the layers and the unparalleled oomph of the bass that kicks into gear about a minute in here. It doesn’t hurt that UK legend Ewan Pearson (Chemical Brothers, everyone with a keyboard) mixed the thing, and it ends up coming off like a distinctly Australian blend of Stone Roses, Primal Scream and Tame Impala. Those are not abstract references. Put on your headphones, cancel your calls and listen.
From what I can gather, Jono has been sitting on some of this stuff for a long, long time. Every time he’s ducked into town over the last three years, he told me he was going to send me some tunes to have a listen to – and never did. To be honest, given the density of this track and how much finessing has obviously gone in on behalf of the pair, I can’t really blame him. ‘The Throw’ grabs you from the first perilous melodic peak Gabriel hits (a melody that is impressively angular and sounds even better repeated by that echoing, psych guitar tones) and goes full throttle once the drums and vocal samples join the carousel. The bass entry is not only entirely unexpected, but completely at odds with what you imagine it would sound like. It’s got that classic early ’90s house feel to it, refusing to play ball with the chords or the melody and yet somehow complementing both. From that point it’s like being on the biggest sugar rush ever; sounds erupting from every stuffed crevice of the track and paralysing you with warmth and taunting you with an uncompromising urge to make you dance like T-shirts never stopped being baggy. It’s a Happy Monday moment on a Friday afternoon, but it’s so much more than that. The last minutes of the song are as dynamic and chimerical as the first.
This is the sound of 2013, 2023 and 3013. Get stuck in.
Jagwar Ma – ‘The Throw’