Review: Jazz Pranksters, Boskorgï (2019)
Has faux jazz become the zeitgeist in Quebecois indie music? Following in the footsteps of Men I Trust’s Oncle Jazz and Chocolat’s Jazz Engagé, Boskorgï’s Jazz Pranksters says yes. scroll down for more...
Since Mac DeMarco popularized “jizz jazz” in the early part of this decade, what would once have been considered gauche lounge music has circled back to once again become hip. With many cashing in on seventh chords, ironic yacht rock instrumentation, and Steely Dan-esque sardonic lyricism, multi-instrumentalist duo Boskorgï take it one step further, with a complicit wink to the listener. On the band's first full-length debut, Jazz Pranksters, they call out their peers on their posturing, fully self-aware of their own part in the trend — pranking the world into believing they’re chic enough to make a jazz record.
For proof, look no further than the title track featuring Félix award winning glam singer Hubert Lenoir. Over a hazy beat complete with 808 clave chirps, Lenoir raps through what sounds like an iPhone mic about the being a jazzy poser. “Word up to all the hip kids who can play a major 7th chord,” he drawls. “Now put your fingers like this / yeah yeah there you go”. The message is clear: you’ve got to fake it ‘till you make it, and that’s just what Boskorgï intend to do.
Though clearly self-deprecating of their jazz chops, band members Thomas B. Martin and Antoine Bordeleau slickly pass muster by sounding more like beat makers than traditional musicians. Guitars and keyboards are processed like crate digging samples of Wes Montgomery and Dr. Lonnie Smith. Only the constant evolution of the parts through the track prove it’s nifty production of live instruments — not licks pulled from the jazz greats of yesteryear — providing the backdrop. You’ve been jazz pranked.
Cheeky humour pervades the record through explorations in neo-soul, pickup jazz, electro-funk and Japanese city-pop. Shredding guitar solos are to be taken ironically (we know it’s not cool to like guitar solos anymore). Track titles like Bring Home The Bacon prove the music isn’t to be taken too seriously either. The album closes with a reading from the final pages of Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle — a fine literary counterpart to the album’s musical wit.
Boskorgï host an impressive lineup of featured artists on this record: longtime collaborator Jei Bandit, pop icons Ariane Moffatt and Hubert Lenoir, soul singer Léonie Gray, and Vonnegut enthusiast (?) Scott Munro (Preoccupations.
But all in all — and despite its grand, if firmly tongue-in-cheek, allusions to being an (un)serious jazz record — Jazz Pranksters plays like a beat tape. Heavy SP-404 style compression and side-chained vinyl crackle pepper the album underneath lazy half-solos on meandering grooves. The jazz detuned synths and ultra compressed drum machines are reminiscent of MF Doom’s Special Herbs beat tapes, Blockhead, and Boards of Canada. It’s a quintessential example of post-Dilla mood-setting music — lo-fi hip hop beats for branché urbanites.
So Hochelaga, if you’re tired of listening to Les Louanges on repeat, have I got the record for you. Boskorgï’s Jazz Pranksters sounds like a wake n’ bake before a meeting in a Beaubien café to plan your internet startup company’s next big app. But… good
Jazz Pranksters has been released at Datcha on November 28th as part of the venue’s Jazz and Tarot Thursdays series.
Stream Jazz Pranksters here.