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Boomkat Product Review:
After a five-year hiatus, Norwegian big-band Jaga Jazzist make a most welcome return with this suitably intricate piece of work, all penned by Lars Horntveth (who proved himself a great solo artist in his own right on Pooka and last year's excellent Kaleidoscopic) but performed by a vast line-up of musicians, who between them have probably appeared on just about every Norwegian album released in the past decade or so. Probably. In addition to the band's usual sprawling membership, ace Nordic studio boffin Jorgen Traeen oversees the splendid production, and contributions from Tortoise's John McEntire and free-jazz trio The Thing help inflate the project even further. Jokingly, Horntveth has referred to One-Armed Bandit as "Wagner meets Fela Kuti", and that's probably as good an account of the record as you could realistically hope for. The density and complexity of this record are awe inspiring, and barely a beat goes by without something new happening. Elaborate, frighteningly precise electronics team up with beautifully played prog-jazz instrumentation to the point where you can no longer tell what's programmed and what happened for real in the room. The first two tracks proper - the title-track and 'Bananfluer Overalt could hardly be more impressive as exercises in fusion, and apart from whatever muso geekery might be going on at the time, you always get the sense that a good melody and a strong rhythm are paramount with this band. Recommended.