23 Apr 2021

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Screw Jack - EP Review: Back in the Saddle

02 Jul 2020 // A review by Callum Wagstaff

Screw-Jack is a musical duo separated by the cook straight and brought together by the wonders of modern technology. The inciting incident that brought Matt Schobs and Mark Tupuhi together happened back in 2007 and somewhere along the way the post-pop electro freakbeat sounds of Screw-Jack were conceived.

Their latest EP, Back in the Saddle, bucks the Led Zeppelin-esque pattern of naming their releases in numerical order and the EP itself moves even more deliberately into ambience. 2017's Screw-Jack 1 and 2 sounded like dub Depeche Mode with occasional elements of trip hop and break beat. 2019's Screw-Jack 3 was a step further, with less vocal components but still maintaining a "Damon Albarn if he was in Salmonella Dub" vibe. Something happened in that space between last year and 2020 which gave us the Screw-Jack sound we have now; fully submerged in the world of dark chocolate trance with its hair wet.

More than ever before, Screw-Jack sound comfortable with building musical space over a longer and more invested period. They traverse sonic ideas gradually, without the need for tension to denote movement in the songs (save for the moody Danker Shank).

Warm pads mix with bright pads amidst smatterings of hard panned new-age percussive sighs and gasps, while more
traditional reggae bass riffs occasionally peek out from behind heavy delayed drones or deep reverbed samples. The title track creates some beautiful chords between the analogue and digital notes crossing paths as they amble through the mist of effects.

There's a patience in the crafting of feel and timbre that has been present all along, but really becomes a central axis in the
Screw-Jack approach on Back in the Saddle.

The aforementioned Danker Shank is a fairly stark departure within the track list with more distortion and more acutely defined melodies and rhythms. As the last track it feels like the previous four were slowly building up to this moment. All the mesmerizing overlap of the previous tracks feel like a forest with Danker Shank as the deepest, darkest, ghost riddled dead-end thicket.

The defined musical shape of the sounds in Danker Shank regress over the course of the song and by the end it regains that familiar
sense of space and air. That tension that was so long coming is resolved, and Back in the Saddle ends on a darker, moodier version of the territory from the rest of the album.

Back in the Saddle is a lush, affecting boat ride through a jungle of secret animals. At every turn you can see shadows and shapes; an ear of reggae or the glowing eyes of an indie lick. rustling snare flames sound off in the distance. Beneath the dank dub fog there are footprints everywhere, but it isn't until the culmination of the trip at the last track that you can make out the features of the creature you're being unwittingly led to all along.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Screw Jack

Screw Jack are Matt Schöbs and Mark Tupuhi. Both songwriters and instrumentalists of some experience combined to create something greater than the sum of its musical parts.

Screw Jack's music is cobbled together in a North Island (Hamilton) Vs South Island (Oamaru) of (New Zealand) friendship and collaboration of the type that could only really exist in this age of WiFi and internet.

Gonzo music for Gonzo people.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Screw Jack


Back In The Saddle
Year: 2020
Type: EP
Screw Jack III
Year: 2019
Type: EP
Screw Jack II
Year: 2017
Type: EP
Screw Jack I
Year: 2017
Type: EP

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