The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Supercluster Jon Buckland , May 24th, 2023 13:34

Featuring members of Sex Swing, Three Trapped Tigers and Therapy, a thoroughtly raucous record capped off with an unexpected Björk tribute

I don’t know if you remember the music video for Björk’s 1995 song ‘Army of Me’ but it’s a fun Michel Gondry-helmed romp with tanks, teeth, diamonds, and gorillas. That noise-rock supergroup JAAW have decided to close their debut album Supercluster with a cover of said track, albeit inflicted with Deftones ooze and the sort of scuttling breakbeats that you’d usually find adorning a Squarepusher release, tells you a fair amount about their approach.

A couple of other informative pointers are that there’s a Ghostbusters reference among the track titles (‘Total Protonic Reversal’) and the line ‘Bring Home The Motherlode, Barry’ comes courtesy of Panos Cosmatos’ wonky sci-fi horror Beyond The Black Rainbow.

Now, that’s not really all that you need to know about this heaving record of muscular, greyscale psychedelia but it’s certainly a start.

The motley crew of underground UK rock stalwarts that make up the JAAW initialism are, on thunderous bass, Jason Stoll of Mugstar and Sex Swing fame, Therapy’s Andy Cairns on grizzled guitars, the belligerent stickman-ship of Adam Betts (Three Trapped Tigers), and holding it all together is the cloaked electronics and pristinely beefed production from Big Lad’s Wayne Adams.

Opener ‘Thoughts and Prayers (Mean Nothing)’ bursts out of the blocks like a hare being pegged by a pneumatic drill. Its claustrophobic industrial cacophony setting the tone with howled vocals smothered in the same burning static as the cartwheeling guitars. And then there’s ‘Hellbent on Happiness’ which is a rampaging drag race of a track, the audio equivalent of the Mad Max: Fury Road car chase.

It’s not all breakneck propulsion either. JAAW mix it up with slower boom bap beats on ‘Reality Crash’, decking out the oppressive fuzz with jittery electronics that let in just a little glint of light. And the aforementioned hulking centrepiece – ‘Bring Home The Motherlode, Barry’ – is all menacing palm-muted riffs and punched percussion which uncoils whip-quick, lurching into gloomy despondent psych via huge walls of wrangled distortion.

Considering the sonic territory that they’re navigating, this will inevitably draw comparisons with fellow discordant supergroup, Holy Scum. Sticking with the cinematic correlation, JAAW are like the older sibling who would let you stay up late with them watching films like The Toxic Avenger and Street Trash whereas Holy Scum would more likely inflict Salo or Irreversible upon you. Both supergroups have their merits. If you’re looking for a deep exploration of the dark night of the soul, you might not find what you’re looking for with Supercluster but, if a rollicking good time, formed from sheet metal guitars, a powerhouse drummer gone spasmodic, and barrelling bass lines strapped to the overclocked engine of a runaway rollercoaster sounds like your sort of thing, JAAW are an army of four willing to go to war for you.