With each successive release, the world of the Budapest-based trio Jü seems to become exponentially larger and encompass an ever-expanding range of vibrant and startling influences. The straightforward title of their latest RareNoise Records release III reflects the basic fact that this is their third outing as a band and also the tripartite nature of the collective trio. But it also harkens to something mystical and elusive about the number three, a quality of arcane mystery reflected in the number’s vital importance in cultures across the globe.
That essential fact, rather than any specific meaning, may get at the heart of why the members of Jü – guitarist Ádám Mészáros, bassist Ernő Hock, and drummer András Halmos – opted for the title. More than anything, their music reflects a core drive to explore traditions and ideas from far-flung corners of the world, returning with a vital and pulse-quickening sound accented by countless disparate influences yet singularly possessing its own boldly uncategorizable voice.
On III that sound is marked by the now-familiar whirlwind of blistering rock, dizzying prog, ferocious free jazz, mesmerizing ambient textures and alluring Eastern European rhythms. This time out, a strong influence from Southeast Asia bleeds its own way into the mix, particularly the gamelan music of Indonesia and the ecstatic devotional songs of India. The mysticism and spiritual intensity of this music melds with the band’s immersive potency to conjure an overwhelming sound of compelling complexity and breathtaking vigor.
The hybrid sounds become all the richer throughout III with the addition of two special guests, both of whom join the trio on several tracks. Vocalist Dóra Győrfi is a Hungarian singer who works primarily in the context of gamelan and wayang groups in Java. Master electronic musician Bálint Bolcsó is a regular collaborator who also joined the band for its previous release, Summa, and adds a limitless array of possibilities to the band’s palette.