Jastreb - Self Titled [WKN/Hau Ruck! - 2012]Jastreb’s self-titled release contains a singular progressive psychedelic track (“Yggdrasil”) that begins with one metal guitar riff repeated for 12 minutes. Sounding like Slayer in slow motion, it’s not a particularly interesting one. Underneath it, an almost inaudible bed of keyboard constantly drones and shifts. This makes the piece slightly discomforting rather than merely annoying, because its subtlety leaves listeners questioning whether they’re actually hearing the changes or simply imagining them to quell the boredom. That in and of itself is a kind of accomplishment.
Eventually, the drones become more recognizable as the usual retro contributions from Albin Julius of Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand, whose WKN/Hau Ruck! label released the record. At the same time, the guitar—presumably from Seven That Spells’ Niko Potoènjak—kicks into the sort of fast monochromatic strum that Stereolab once learned from Neu! Thus begins the head trip’s main theme, a spacy one-note nothingness with a heavy live drum sound borrowed from classic Krautrock, broken every eight measures or so by a curious Cure-like bass part.
This melange carries on for the better part of half an hour, with only one interruption near the end, when a two-minute interlude drops everything but the guitar and the minimal swirling. The effects become shrill and piercing, and just as the track becomes harrowing and finally interesting, as Der Blutharsch used to be, it reverts to business as usual.
Metal fans not looking for technical virtuoso but interested in hearing the trappings of such music appropriated by psych for a repetitive, meditative experience might find something to value in this. Jastreb’s brew of every alternative genre since the ‘60s does eventually yield a strange sort of misbegotten charm.Richard T Williams