Jupiter Lion, Silver Mouth

Philip Sherburne

By Philip Sherburne

on 08.15.13 in Reviews

A sense of déjà vu flashes as Jupiter Lion tears into “Silver Constellation,” the opening song on the Spanish trio’s Silver Mouth. The group makes no secret of its debt to Krautrock, particularly Neu!: The rippling drums, carefully balancing syncopated toms against a steadfast 4/4 pulse, are a dead ringer for Klaus Dinger’s so-called “motorik” (or “Apache”) beat, and the stubborn pedal tones and pealing leads are straight out of the “Hallogallo” playbook. But Jupiter Lion, like Stereolab before them, are less interested in merely replicating Düsseldorf’s past glories than they are in building towering new structures atop Krautrock’s bedrock. And what ambitious architects they are. With a stripped-down lineup of drums, electric bass and synthesizers, they hammer away at simple, sturdy motifs — brooding ostinato bass lines, pinwheeling arpeggios, soaring top lines — that are layered in ways that suggest monumental scale. Organ tones rise up like gleaming pillars, stray vocoded phrases flutter like pennants, and it all swims in a luminous mist of feedback and analog delay like some cloud-piercing pyramid.

Building towering new structures atop Krautrock’s bedrock

It’s a massive, majestic sound, enough so that it hardly matters that there aren’t many actual songs here. Both “Silver Constellation” and “Bellicec” pump away at the same bass line and the same motorik groove, and “Krokodil” is, formally speaking, nearly identical but for the key signature. On “Black Mouth,” the band eases into a slower, spacier vibe, splitting the difference between disco and psychedelia. “The Death of Dallas,” slower and spacier still, shows how expertly Jupiter Lion convert atmosphere into urgency, as fizzing synths and shuffling low toms gradually give way to an extended crescendo; the band’s endless sculpting and shaping of sound is its own reward, as immersive as you could ask for. What’s even more impressive is that the album’s six songs were all recorded live in single takes.

The set is rounded out by three remixes. Two of them offer only modest updates to the original material, but drummer Gonzo in Vegas’s rework of “Black Mouth” is far more radical, scrapping nearly all the original’s elements save for a few squealing oscillators and laying down a tough, EBM-inspired machine groove. The feeling of déjà vu washes over you again — only this time, it’s for the industrial-dance sound that ruled the band’s native Valencia in the early ’80s.