Jokatech – Standing Still Symphony
You can seldom teach confidence. One can acquire it over time, learning from mistakes, paring away errors until you nary place the wrong foot forward. More often than not, however, artists are either born with the brazen belief they have something important to say or they aren’t born with anything else except the self-serving desire to always have someone paying attention, looking at them, validating them. Jokatech comes out of this latest release, Standing Still Symphony, as one of the most thrilling performers in popular music today.He always sounds like a writer and performer utterly convinced he has something new to say people haven’t yet heard and there isn’t a single second in either of these songs not charged by the bracing, chest-out confidence of someone announcing their arrival. Each song has a different sonic presentation, but even one listen will convince all but the jaded that Jokatech worked quite hard on these songs and had the vision to see them through.
Standing Still Symphony begins with “And Now We Wait (Intro)”. It incorporates extensive voice over from Jokatech, but the track likewise references sound clips from legendary film star Bruce Lee into the sonic tapestry. The song is neatly split into two distinct halves – the first devoted to Jokatech’s lyrical content meshed with contributions from Lee and a roving piano melody while the second is a much busier instrumental section that manages to balance the accessible and high brow quite nicely. “My Greatest Opponent” pulls back some from the experimental moves of the first track and, instead, focuses much more on a minimal approach of piano joined, naturally, by Jokatech’s virtually spoken-word performance over top. “Brother Muhammad – Tszss” may be the album’s high point for some. In a dazzling virtuosic display, Jokatech brings together a wide array of sound clips from Muhammad Ali’s public life with his own musical musings and predilections in what must surely rate as one of the most inventive tributes yet to the man’s life and influence.
The title song recalls “My Greatest Opponent” in some important ways. The sonic presentation is much the same as before, though a little more active, and the subject matter is different. It probably succeeds better than the aforementioned earlier song thanks to it being more musically substantive and better balanced with the text. Standing Still Symphony ends with “Simultaneous Paradox”. It’s easily the album’s longest single track at over twenty minutes long, but it never tires you. One hallmark about Jokatech’s musical side is he has a laudable willingness to take chances and it plays a major role in how the finale develops. It is the major statement he likely wanted to end the album on and works from first second to last.
Jokatech doesn’t place a foot wrong, really, with either of these songs. They are pointed towards specific elements within his audience, but he’s one of the rare performers in the genre who does have truly lasting cross-genre appeal. Jokatech is never so hidebound to tradition that it turns Standing Still Symphony into an academic exercise for jazz, hip hop, or spoken word devotees. Instead., he wants to bring as people under his tent as possible.
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