The name Jazzanova carries an immense amount of respect (and hype) in the electronic music world--especially for six German guys who insist they aren't musicians, don't perform live and, until recently, hadn't released an album of their own material. Groomed to become the next Kruder & Dorfmeister as an electronic act that outstrips the underground and becomes a near-household name, Jazzanova's debut album, In Between, is their supposed launching pad into Gap commercials and the canon of American stoner music.
Jazzanova are the intended flag-bearers of nujazz, a sound which can be anything from house-y dance tunes to abstract, electro-acoustic improv sessions--the loosely common thread being a jazzy compositional style or chords. The term is more often being used to sell compilation CDs decorated with outlines of people sitting on Eames furniture, and perhaps is the reason Jazzanova shies away from the term. "We have no names for our music; saying nujazz creates a limitation," says spokesperson Alex Barck. "We hope that Jazzanova sounds like Jazzanova, as an Elvis record sounds like Elvis."
The buzz surrounding Jazzanova was built on a steady stream of remixes that weave punchy bass with midtempo electro-Brazilian percussion; those were collected on a hugely successful double-album, Remixes 1997-2000. In Between expands their patented style with some needed chance-taking: techy hiphop and woozy broken-beats make for a classy sound that still eludes simple categorization.
Though all six members of Jazzanova worked on In Between, it wasn't a group effort in the literal sense. Alex explains, "We are three DJs and three recording engineers, and we work together in pairs. We like to program and cut things up in our samplers." With the exception of an occasional vibraphone solo or Ursula Rucker vocal drop, the mechanics and melody of every song is a product of laborious sample manipulation. Says Alex, "Each song takes months and months." So, is the live show laptop-rockin' on the buddy system? "To replicate our music live would be impossible. We prefer to present the album in DJ form, as that is our background," says Alex. "And, we like the kick-drum on the off-tempo, on the hip."