Watch List: Jaala and Mangelwurzel Are Melbourne’s Jazz Punk Geniuses
Cosima Jaala is one of the busiest bees in Melbourne’s thriving music scene. Those already acquainted can thank Hiatus Kaiyote for the familiarity – they’ve hyped both Jaala’s eponymous group by inviting them to open for a stretch of the their Australian dates on the Choose Your Weapon tour last year, and bassist Paul Bender recorded the band’s debut in 2015 as well. The affinity seen here is no coincidence; apart from sharing the same hometown, both Jaala and her equally vicious other group Mangelwurzel approach conventional songwriting structure with the same renaissance outlook as Hiatus Kaiyote. However, while HK repaves the road with lush, grand gestures of cool funk and future jazz, Jaala annihilates the standard four-on-the-floor song to make way for a more manic, heart-on-sleeve, spastic workout.
Jaala – “War Song”
To give a sense of Jaala’s exhausting schedule, her self-titled eight-song debut Hard Hold was released in October, only to be followed in February by Gary, the first full-length LP from Mangelwurzel. To differentiate the two by claiming that Mangelwurzel is just “Jaala with horns” would be a trite purview. Boundaries are just as extinct on Gary, but with this outfit, Cosima makes a conscious effort to reach for new heights in experimental pop.
Mangelwurzel – “Everybody’s Friend”
Unfortunately, according to the band’s Facebook, Mangelwurzel’s “last show ever” took place back in April; a real shame considering their short lifespan, although Jaala continues to tour to this day with her titular group. Aside from her role as the act’s songwriter and namesake, Jaala is by no means a solo venture; the parts that make up the whole are exceptional in their own right, particularly drummer Maria Moles. Her style consists of heavy reliance on the ride cymbal, emulating the relaxed atmosphere of a 1950s jazz lounge, though not long before implementing her variety of calculated stuttering break-beats to retain order around Cosima’s jagged guitar arrangements.