AJ True 2019
Aural movie in its own right, an evocative flow of tunes that accompany Australian travelogue to take the listener on a dramatic, if peace-seeking, trip.
Full of reflection, Benjamin Gilmour’s “Jirga” was filmed in a genuinely dangerous way, in Afghanistan where its story takes place, may suggest a tragedy, yet AJ True – whose credits as a composer include the “True Blood” series – has found a different approach to stress the nature of what’s going on behind a former soldier’s search for catharsis. While there are shades of inner turmoil in a few pieces on this record, the Eastern patterns applied to most of the music result in a rather tranquil experience, occasional string quartet appearances adding grandeur to tanbur and rebab that spice up the melodies alongside AJ’s synthesizers and guitars. One wouldn’t need visuals nor words to imagine how the protagonist and his new acquaintances feel, although several songs – performed by the on-screen partners Sam Smith and Sher Alam Miskeen Ustad – intensify human presence in the otherwise desolate place.
That’s the landscape such numbers as “Arrival” – pregnant with expectancy and not offering closure – paint, whereas the likes of “Roadblock” and “Widow” reveal the influence of Edgar Froese and the director’s namesake David. The tracks are short, rarely straying beyond a 2-minute mark, but self-contained, so the layers of drone in “Hotel Money Mystery” create an eloquent soundscape which makes suspense tell a tale, and the electric shimmer of “Hotel At Night” marries progressive ambience to folk without a lengthy development. Still, the crystalline “Lost In The Desert” has an epic air about its dynamic swells and falls, and the sparse “Cave Montage” and “Execution” are enshrouded in a spectacularly understated strum.
This album won’t result in spiritual cleansing, but the enlightening listening is guaranteed.