The Prickle (@ThePrickle) February 23, 2019
Back home in London for the last date of his European tour, Jacob Collier burst onto stage in a flurry of windmilling arms and launched himself into conducting a symphony of firework-gazing exclaims from the attentive home-crowd audience. A sprint to stage left and we dutifully ooohed. A dash to the right and we granted a percussive ahhhh. Having established our eagerness to comply, multi-instrumentalist JC had us in the palm of his hand (or within reach in the deep pockets of his baggy pantaloons) as an additional musical force for the rest of the night.
Following the same trajectory that Collier’s recording output has scaled up from In My Room and the accompanying one-man show (itself already an extension of his YouTube origins), the shifting tectonic plates of new album Djesse Vol. 1 is matched with Collier as (at least) one part of a four piece-band. There was no less time spent for him frantically dashing between drum kit, bass and piano with barely a quaver’s opportunity, but with less reliance upon track the performance had a greater warmth: knowing smiles from band mates acknowledged the moments when the funk pushed deepest; the harmonies their sweetest; and the rhythm shifts their tricksiest.
It’s still a little disorientating at first and opening single With the Love in my Heart is a dizzying ride through Collier’s palette, each flavour heightened by a responsive light system which burned bright on the grooves and cast honey-glow over the mellow moments. But it’s this diversity and relentless pursuit of creativity that is the thrust of Djesse. More than a self-referential phonetic of Collier’s initials, Djesse is the inner-child of boundless exploration that promises four albums within the next 12 months.
For many the pull of Collier is the tempo twisting and time signature switching, but it’s often a ballad where the mastery of his craft and command of harmony shine most brightly. A solo piano and vocal rendition of Real Early Morning stilled the audience as did a camp-fire acoustic of In My Room, whilst the addition of Portuguese artist Maro’s vocals on Ocean Wide, Canyon Deep threatened the role of the harmoniser. There was still plenty of time for a party though including closing the set with Fascinating Rhythm, as penned by “the greatest rockstar of the 20th century”: George Gershwin.
Jacob’s tour continues in the USA, with Djesse vol. 2 on the horizon.