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Jesu @ The Earl, Atlanta, GA

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It seems almost perverse to assert that Broadrick is just now hitting his career stride with Jesu.  The guy is a bona fide cult figure due to the immeasurable impact of his work in Godflesh and his tinkering over the years with myriad side projects and experiments that warmed new listeners up to the worlds of minimal techno, drum n bass, and noise.  Still, as I was swaying back and forth with Jesu's monolithic grind, I couldn't help but think that Broadrick is finally making the music he was meant to make all along.

Jesu's sound is uncharacteristically hopeful for Broadrick and his devotees.  He has finally found the melody lurking under all of those layers of overdriven guitar and has put it out front.  While Godflesh was often emotional in a brutal, cathartic kind of way, Jesu manages to capture a much wider range—a fact that was even more evident in a live setting. 

In the recent past, it seemed like many of Broadrick's projects were all leading toward an end where the enraged nihilism and despair just couldn't get any more starkly expressed.  Godflesh lyrics had devolved into refrains of "You're fucked" and even Broadrick's breakbeat and hip hop experiments were moving toward a one-dimensional conclusion.  It never stopped me from paying attention, but with remix after retread after re-release, I started feeling like maybe I had heard everything Broadrick had to say.

Jesu is a new chapter, though.  The live set up of a computer with backing tracks, a guitar, bass, and drums is no more complicated than it needs to be and the band is incredibly tight playing at such a syrupy pace.  On Jesu's recordings, the drums simply keep time and they've always been the one element of the records that I thought felt like an afterthought.  Thankfully the live drums gave the songs an added energy and the songs that I already knew well exploded.

In between songs people in the audience shouted out the inevitable requests for Godflesh songs and I couldn't help but be a little embarrassed by that.  There are certainly people who are riding along with Jesu because it's Broadrick's new project and the cult wagon train is rolling on.  It's a shame though that more people aren't discovering what Jesu offers without any of that baggage.  Really letting the weight and unexpected beauty of Jesu work means letting go of Broadrick's past, as he has.  We've moved on, people, and at a time in a career when most artists would have traded in the amps for a day job, Broadrick is proving that he's got more to offer than we could have imagined if we will but pay attention.



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