Jodis Secret House

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Styles: drone, doom, post-metal
Others: Isis, Khanate

On paper, Jodis is a legend in the making. Isis’ Aaron Turner fronting the rhythm section of Khanate’s James Plotkin (bass) and Tim Wyskida (drums) virtually guarantees an amazing art-metal supergroup. In practice, however, we discover that the middle ground between Isis and Khanate — where this trio, predictably, finds its sound — maintains exactly none of the traits that made those bands great. Isis’ ability to expand chest cavities with a masterful handle on dynamics is dulled to a subtly varied whisper: all open spaces with no rushing bombast to counter. Likewise, Khanate’s fearsome, chest-crushing dirges become, here, something less like impending death and more like an afternoon nap.

Plotkin’s bass and Wyskida’s sparse drumming drive the album, but over the course of its 51-plus minutes, the plunging bass drones and minimalist percussion hues blur to a monochromatic wash. Turner’s guitar is a ghost of brittle feedback, and his voice — by turns a ragged growl and an airy croon — feels out-of-sync, like it’s laid on top just so there’s something active happening. This record is a desert, and Turner, marooned within it, has only himself and the gently, repetitively, and monotonously billowing dust at his feet to talk to. This is everything wrong with drone (monochromatic epics with no forward movement), doom (mind-numbing repetition with no hypnotic payoff), and post-metal (tepid stewing in a false-dynamic haze).

Even at its heaviest and most interesting — opener “Ascent,” which plays like an introduction to something that never arrives — Jodis is merely layering muted, washed-out colors borrowed from the likes of sunn 0))), OM, and its own members’ other bands. But mixing thin broth with thin broth does not a hearty stew make. When slow, heavy music succeeds, it succeeds for tonal shifts, modal developments, and a constant forward motion; even glaciers are going somewhere. When it sounds like this, it just treads water in its members’ already-established reputations.

To be fair, though, there is something calming about white noise; and if that’s what you seek, then there’s a good chance that this record will both cost less than a fancy ambient-sound-maker from Brookstone and put you to sleep just as ably.

1. Ascent
2. Continents
3. Secret House
4. Follow The Dogs
5. Little Beast
6. Waning
7. Slivers

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