Doom Jazz. I quite literally discovered this wonderful subgenre last night and I was so moved and awed by it I had to throw something into the Resounding Footsteps review machine. I’m sure the genre, and my new found interest in it can cause some questions. First, what the fuck is doom jazz? Why am I reviewing jazz of all things on Resounding Footsteps, a predominately black metal site? Is it really that good or am I being hyperbolic? All legitimate questions of course. Doom jazz is pretty close to regular jazz but the music is slower, richer, and incorporates much deeper tones. Why am I reviewing it here? Because Resounding Footsteps is about more than just black metal and dark ambient, while those two make up the bulk of everything I write about here they are by no means the only thing. I love classical, folk, and synth as well and from time to time I will review them here because the music moves my soul, it stirs the creative forces inside and well it’s my goddamn prerogative. In all seriousness though I love music that’s dark and doom jazz is exactly that. It might not appeal to all but I think it will strike a chord with some. As it turns out, through my research, I’ve had an encounter with doom jazz before and didn’t even know it. Phonothek, the brilliant duo from Georgia play a lot of doom jazz with their ambient music and the Lost in Fog review remains one of the most popular here so.
But I digress, and a lot apparently. The first doom jazz I found wasn’t one of the popular ones (at least within the doom jazz circles) but it being the first one for me means it’s the one the others have to live up to. Manet is a solo act from Stavanger Norway who says he’s not classically trained. Well to hell with that! He released “Dark Side of the Valley” in April this year and I was instantly blown away.
I was in the band in middle school for all of three weeks playing the clarinet. I know how hard it can be to play jazz instruments, okay I don’t know that well, and I couldn’t be more impressed. Where Phonothek had a very smoky, noir feel to their jazz, Manet has a post rock vibe with distortions similar to shoegaze. The ambient side, though, is pretty light though thankfully. I really like that the jazz music itself is the main focus rather than another ingredient. It’s quiet and subtle, the whole album is relaxing. When I close my eyes I can see myself in the valley in the album’s cover (a gorgeous album cover by the way). I can feel the chill of the wind and the wetness of the fog as it closes around. The music sort of crawls through the underbrush. As I said the album is very subtle but it has a lot of strength too, it’s a lot stronger in its silence than a lot of jazz I’ve heard (I’m not actually a fan of jazz to begin with) with the overly bombastic production.
Doom jazz is jazz for those of us who like the darker, stranger music. It’s the soundtrack to the less gleeful, overly cheery world that we love in the shadows. I look forward to listening to more doom jazz in the future, with some special emphasis on Manet!
Listen and support!