CD Review

Jute – “A Violent Narcotic”

By Dan Century

A Violent NarcoticWhen My Scarlet Life)1_ broke up I was totally disappointed. I was certain that I had heard the last of their exceptional vocalist Julie Axis. Now, two or three years later, Julie has reemerged as the singer of Jute. Jute combines the talents of four Chicago musicians. Joe Axis on vocals, guitars, bass, piano and programming; Robb Shakespeare on guitar, piano and programming; Michael Dobkowski on bass; and Julie’s gorgeous voice, the swirling golden thread that flows through each song.

A Violent Narcotic is a rare example of an album that compels you to listen from start to finish. Each song blends so well with the next that you won’t be able to choose a favorite and you won’t want to skip ahead – it’s almost like a perfect DJ mix. Jute does an exceptional job of blending instrumentation – one instrument or sound never dominates another. Jute seems to be a true musical collaboration. A Violent Narcotic is an exceptional album to accompany any collaborative occasions of your own: whether you’re getting buzzed with friends, or “getting your romance on” with that special someone. Dim the lights, turn off the TV, light some candles, put Jute in your CD player, set it to repeat and let the magic flow.

The album begins with the swirling, ambient tones and lazy beats of Southern Exposure and Ephemeral. Julie’s voice dances like a flickering flame amongst gentle guitar and piano riffs. Rising Of Reason feels like a panther on the prowl – a masculine beat and bass line support Joe Axis’ vocal lead. Free blends Julie’s heavenly voice with Joe’s more earthy tones, while piano notes drop like spring rain and chimes sparkle like stars. Advent of Zero features some gorgeous guitar soloing – subtle and sensual, but never harsh or obnoxious. A flute, exotic percussion and Julie’s divine voice blend like a perfect dream on Narcotic. The album closes with Opium, the most memorable track on the album. Mechanical beats, hookah pipe sound effects, flowing Middle Eastern melodies and Julie’s voice melt together like a swirling plume of opium smoke, entering your mind, numbing and relaxing you as you drift off to can only assume that this song is the audio equivalent of smoking opium.

My Scarlet Life flirted with trip hop, chillout and downtempo. Jute embraces these genres, forging a sound that will please devotees of MSL, as well as fans of bands like Massive Attack, Tricky, Nightmares on Wax and Zero7. DJ’s will also find Jute mixes well with the Cure, Koop, Mr. Scruff, KLF and FC Kahuna.

(1) Infrared was MSL’s last album and was reviewed by Dan in Legends #96.
Contact Information:
Screaming Artist Publicity
Post: PO Box 5583, Vancouver, WA, 98668-5583, USA
Phone: (360) 513-9121

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