JuJu (Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara), 2011
The new album In Trance was recorded live to capture the spirit of JuJu's ecstatic, trance-like performances on stage - channelling hypnotic rhythms from traditional Africa, leftfield jazz and the wilder end of rock.
Not long ago, on a night lit up by a fat golden moon, JuJu took a trip. Fuelled by rocking guitar and one-string swing, by backseat bass and Afro-jazz beats, Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara travelled to the place where tradition meets psychedelia - and then teetered, out there, on the edge. Theirs was a journey of rhythmic circles and open spaces, a journey over age-old grooves and along futuristic highways: a journey where the destination - with its whirling spirals and other kaleidoscopic motifs - counted as much as the journey.
"We just came together, plugged in and played," says Adams of In Trance, a one-take marvel that begs repeated listening. "We played it exactly as we play it live. It was a bit like controlling a runaway horse - that is completely spooked!"
If JuJu's chemistry was evident on their acclaimed 2007 debut Soul Science and its equally praised follow up Tell No Lies, it is almost palpable here. In Trance is precisely that: an album that sees Adams' Les Paul goldtop vying and blending with Camara's keening bittersweet vocals and fiery ritti playing, and embracing dub reggae and avant-garde jazz en route. Tracks build and circle, layer and knit. Melodies interlock, rhythms cross and the drone guitar builds a web of sound with an African aesthetic and heavy rock fervour.
The two men's spooky musical empathy is evident to anyone who has ever seen them tear the roof off live. "Justin's playing gets inside my body, and I can hear the music in his head," insists Camara. "Justin plays African style." It's no secret that the roots of rock (and indeed, blues and reggae) are earthed firmly in the Motherland. Calling on the griot skills he honed in childhood Camara peels off riffs on his ritti like some be-robed Gambian Hendrix, his Fulani-language lyrics only adding to the hallucinogenic feel.
The recording magic took place at Real World Studios, where new band members, Dave Smith and Billy Fuller, brought their own unique strengths to the mix. In the studio, JuJu created five new tracks that make your body pulsate - music that is raw and swinging and has that slightly distorted sheet-of-sound vibe that Moroccan artists like The Musicians of Jajouka have, where everyone is doing their own little pushes and pulls and twists and twiddles and weaving an incredible sonic web. Two tracks, Mariama Trance and Deep Sahara have previously appeared on the EP, The Trance Sessions.
"The whole album evolved in a very fast and spontaneous manner," says Adams. "We just went into the studio and did five live takes without headphones or overdubbing. We set out to make swing music, dance music, trance music; we got all those things."
In Trance features seven extended tracks: five are previously unreleased, two come from the EP The Trance Sessions (March 2010).
Words by Jane Cornwell
- ...folks who have never even heard of Gambia could love this intensely flavored hybrid of old and new music. The two are wonderfully matched partners, giving each other space while supporting each other; the pair are supported powerfully by their three-person rhythm section. "Deep Sahara" builds an intense head of steam as it is propelled by a primitive tom-tom rhythm reminiscent of Bo Diddley, ending with a dual percussion jam of western and African drums. RootsWorld (USA)
- In Trance is a transportive and rewarding listen. The sound is rich, full, dynamic and impossibly more raw still than previous compositions. In their skilled hands the gut-bucket blues that crossed from Africa to America return again to the desert sands of the Sahara, woven into trance-inducing cycles of the ancients. ...seemingly boundless vocabulary of licks and fills, drenched in glorious guitar straight to amp tones and swells, captured on this aurally peerless recording. Capped by Juldeh's visceral singling in the Fulani language... www.worldbeatinternational.com (Online)
- Oh man, this is a smoking hot record. ...this record rocks. Like electric guitar? Buy it. Like African music? Buy it. Like bluesy crunch? Buy it. Like uptempo booty-shaking music? Buy it. Popmatters.com (Online)
- intoxicating... Recorded live in two one-day sessions without overdubs, these seven tracks viscerally testify to music's power as a unifying language. The seesawing dynamic between longtime Robert Plant guitarist Adams and Gambian griot Camara, who conjures otherworldly sounds from his ritti (one-string Fulani fiddle), is rhythmically thrilling. Their musical exchange transcends words, although Camara's gruff vocals deepen the sonic allure of tracks like "Jombajo" and his spoken intro to "Mariama Trance" is nearly as intoxicating as his virtuosic playing. Pasadena Weekly (USA)
- it is clear that this is unlike anything that has been heard before. The opening guitar riff cranks out of the hi-fi, sounding like a raw, dirty rock 'n roll guitarist mainlined straight from the American South...it is clear that this is unlike anything that has been heard before. Mail & Guardian Online (South Africa)
- A perfect fusion of sounds after five years of playing together Les Inrock (France)
- One of Les Inrocks best world music albums of 2011 Juju's third album is groundbreaking Les Inrocks (France)
- One of Teleramas best world music albums of 2011 An exhilarating groove Telerama (France)
- Album picks of 2011 If they play near you, rush to see them. Even better live. The African Report (UK)
- In Trance makes KPFK Berkley Radio's Best of 2011 list KPFK Berkley Radio (Sandy Miranda) (San Francisco, USA)
- Number 10 Best Album 2011 - The Guardian Critics Choice The Guardian - Robin Denselow (UK)
- Number 1 in Sydney Morning Heralds Best Non Western Music Album 2011 Sydney Morning Heralds - Metro (Australia)
- Number 1 in Mojo's Top 50 World Albums of 2011 Mojo (UK)
- Number 4 in fRoots Critics Poll 2011 fRoots (UK)
- ...fierce startling combination of blues... ...rock, and African sounds - with all the boundaries blurred... Blues News (UK)
- One of the most radical albums of the year... Jazz Magazine (France)
- Superb! Glitterhouse (Germany)
- Infectious grooves... Xaver (Germany)
- Powerful Guitar riffs and great riti solos... GoodTimes (Germany)
- A Wirlwind of notes and rhythms. Explosive Biba Mag (France)
- Wonderful album. Hypnotic! Muziq (France)
- ...truly remarkable...sublime, psychedelic sound that cannot be compared to any other. (Juldeh Camara's)...spontaneous, evocative motives that moved alongside and at times alternated with (Justin) Adam's guitar grooves creating a musical dynamic between the two that was thrilling to all senses. Soon, most of the audience were on their feet dancing away in the aisles. The combination of Camara's passion-fuelled Fulani vocals and folk-style ritti playing, Fuller's groovy bass-lines, Smith's jazzy-Gambian beats and Adams' rock-infused-riffs gave way to a sublime, psychedelic sound that cannot be compared to any other. A jaw-opening blast-off to the Barbican's Transcender Festival 2011. JungleDrumsOnline.com (Live review from The Barbican) (UK)
- ...incredibly infectious, evocative music...sensational. ...some of the most mutually inspired jamming you're ever likely to hear on any recording, ever. ...this enthralling duo have made some of the most dynamic music imaginable together. Any gig Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara perform at would be unmissable, but to watch them playing here, as the leading band...was quite simply, sensational. Extra! Extra! Online (Live review from The Barbican) (UK)
- ...Camara's talking drum sang the concert home to a standing ovation. ...their music has recently found its proper length, extended half-improvised trances that build off the audience's whoops and shouts. FT.com (Live review from The Barbican) (UK)
- ...spectacular... ...the ease of their collaboration is always fresh, playful and exuberant. They are gripping to watch and thrilling to listen to with the music always sounding rough, ready and right. London Evening Standard (Live review from the Barbican) (UK)
- mesmeric passion... Juldeh is a marvel. He sings with intensity and passion and his ritti playing is as good as any folk violinist I have ever seen live. Justin Adams is one of few guitarists who can really make music across many genres and he uses his skills as a rock guitarist, Blues and 'ethnic' equally. The mutual respect between them is wonderful to watch... TheMusicNews.com (Live review from The Barbican) (UK)
- Spellbinding... Rolling Stones (France)
- ...they turn the walls upside down, they crash the gates open and set the inmates free. And the freedom is exhilarating. Juldeh Camera seems to revel in his Jimmy Page inspired riffs, the distinction being that what the revered Mr Page accomplished with a plethora of guitars at his disposal, Juldeh Camera approaches with a one-stringed fiddle! If I didn't know it was Dave Smith at the drum kit, I'd swear someone sneaked Ginger Baker into the studio. JuJu clearly just lost themselves in this, I suggest cranking up the volume and doing the same. ...as with their live sets, JuJu don't just dissolve the boundaries - they demolish them with relish, they turn the walls upside down, they crash the gates open and set the inmates free. And the freedom is exhilarating." Folk Radio UK (UK)
- hypnotic and joyful. A diamond Telerama (France)
- Wonderful Spass Und Spiele (Germany)
- ...an album which is more than the sum of it's part Concerto (Austria)
- Their most riotous outing yet... Limelight (AUS)
- Incessant Grooves infused with psychedelic energy... The Australian Weekender (AUS)
- Wonderfully wild and exuberant... Sydney Morning Herald (AUS)
- ...no compromises of artistry The combination of Adams' rugged but regal pitch bends and the unforced hypnosis of the repeating motifs really makes this an interesting outgrowth of rock and folk impulses that equally embrace western and non-western populism with no compromises of artistry. Echoes Magazine (UK)
- JuJu is as wildly raw as it is soothingly entrancing. The Africa Report (UK)
- Amazing what you can do with a string. ...utterly mesmerising on a hot summer's day... The Word (UK)
- An intense, at times crazed live-in-studio session... ...On "Nightwalk" Adams alternates African-style picking with rock thunder while Camara sends his fiddle on a dervish dance, punctuated by wailing vocals, the rhythm section crashing along. Uncut (UK)
- ...extraordinary fiddle solos... Their clearest influences...Led Zeppelin, a little Lee Perry and, in the African's extraordinary fiddle solos, a measure of Hendrix-style firepower. Mojo (UK)
- ...Justin and Juldeh are proving to be... ...one of the 21st century's most enduring and rewarding cross-cultural partnerships. The Daily Planet (AUS)
- ...full-on band with the addition of hard-driving Bristolian rhythm... The result is furiously syncopated, no-holds-barred rock made marvellously strange by Camara's squawking fiddle and invocatory singing. Telegraph (UK)
- ...pushes the JuJu sound to the edges of psychedelia... and jazz improv, with lengthy instrumental passages and a general air of wig-outedness. The moody Jambajo with its twangy guitar, intense Riti and Camara's echoey vocal works particularly well. FRoots (UK)
- Simultaneously grounded and spiralling off into the stratosphere, this is urgent, epic stuff... ...the heady joyous racket they produce is as much rock as it is "world music". But that's more rock as a full-on force of nature than rock as a posturing and stolid anachronism. Simultaneously grounded and spiralling off into the stratosphere, this is urgent, epic stuff that doesn't let up for a moment. The Independent On Sunday (UK)
- Recorded live in a single take... This is the closest that JuJu have yet come to recreating their ecstatic concert performances. The Financial Times (UK)
- Hot stuff. Over the past few years they have played some stunning live gigs and that experience and familiarity bursts out of this brilliant disc. The sounds of guitar and Gambian fiddle complement each other perfectly and Justin and Juldeh clearly fire each other's playing....this album gets deep into trance-like grooves with Camara's ritti winding like a snake over rattling percussion...the guitar licks driving Deep Sahara evoking the Touareg sandscape of the Festival in the Desert. London Evening Stanadard (UK)
- ...cohesive album of an enduring partnership... ...Smith and Fuller constitute a brilliantly tight, explosive rhythm section, with Adams' effects-laden guitar and Camara's howling ritti (one-stringed fiddle) and desert-dry vocals riding above them....brutal rhythmic assault, marrying Moroccan trance and dub effects to intensely kinetic effect. In Trance is the third and most cohesive album of an enduring partnership that seems to have reached a new level of alchemy. BBC Music Online (UK)
- There's some fine playing on this set... Furious, improvised fusion of African styles, blues and rock ... Adams and Camara interact with extraordinary intuition. The Guardian (UK)
- Avant-jazz dub-trance grooves. The Independent (UK)
- A culture clash masterpiece. It's a heady brew of hard bop, wild folk thunder, invigorating drumming and super-tooled rock dynamics. The Daily Mirror (UK)
- Juju's third album is a riotous, joyful affair. Here his (Juldeh Camara's) ritti, or one-string West African fiddle, soars across the backdrop of rock-heavy riffs from Justin Adams' Les Paul goldtop guitar...In Trance effortlessly finds the groove and works it until the groove is done. Think trancey rhythms from traditional Africa meeting Led Zeppelin, The Doors and The Prodigy. Epoch Times (UK)
- So are JuJu the future of rock'n'roll? I don't see why not... ...they've got round to doing what most bands can't wait to do, which is give themselves a groovy band name...I actually rather like "JuJu". Another thing that now makes this band seem more like a band in the rock'n'roll sense is the addition of Dave Smith and Billy Fuller on drums and bass respectively. What this effectively does is shift the music from the intimate to the epic...So are JuJu the future of rock'n'roll? I don't see why not... For what they're doing here is not a million miles from some of the progressive/psychedelic rock you might have heard in the early 1970s (in a good way, I hasten to add). The Arts Desk (UK)
- Every track on In Trance is a delight... (Mariama Trance) (Djanfa Moja) both will peel the socks clean off your feet, but Smith's creativity and finely controlled power, devastating when it is given full throttle, lifts the second track to giddy heights. ...unprecedented invention, sinew and elegance. Smith and JuJu were made for each other. Every track on In Trance is a delight, but the album's crowning jewel is the aforementioned "Djanfa Moja." This really is trance music, as in scrambling your synapses and taking you somewhere other. allaboutjazz (UK)
- I just want to dive back in and enjoy it again. To my ear they are one of the most successful pairings I have heard in all the years I have been listening to and reviewing music and I still can't describe them clearly. What JuJu manage to create is the sort of music that has mystics wandering across deserts and up mountainsides in search of the origins of these wonders. I can go on for paragraph after paragraph about the intensity and the completely enveloping aspect of the music and about the mesmeric and almost chemical effect it has on the aware mind but I would rather you, dear reader, go ahead and experience this wonder for yourself. I just want to dive back in and enjoy it again. MusicNews.com (UK)
- ...one of the most exciting pairs in music today... ...dust off your dancin' shoes and prepare to become firmly entrenched in being entranced. Extra! Extra! (UK)
- ...ripening their signature Afro-rock into a potent and evocative brew! This was one of those legendary gigs you'll read or hear about in future and wish you'd stumbled on...i felt their relentlessly infectious grooves washing over me as their instruments wailed, screeched, screamed, cried and stretched until the audience yelled out for more, and still more again! Their enthusiasm was more than contagious and several people blissfully danced their way through one trance inducing number after another...Justin and Juldeh can, literally, do no wrong. The happy crowd whopping, clapping and swaying all around me from start to finish during this show obviously shared my view! Extra! Extra! (Live from The Bowrey, London) (UK)
- Included amongst Ten Best Gigs Fusing Adams's lightning-strike of Gibson with Camara's magical one-string ritti violin. The Independent (The Information) Live from The Bowrey (UK)