‘Dojo’ is the debut album from Brighton-based 5 piece Jouis. It’s both gentle and gently uplifting, blending, as it does, progressive rock, jazz and psychedelia.
Given the slightly exotic and otherworldly nature of ‘Dojo’, I certainly wouldn’t have picked this bunch out as a Brighton band. Even the album cover is suggestive of something vaguely exotic, perhaps Spanish or Mexican. But Brighton-based they are, having formed at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music in 2008.
Though they already had a couple of EPs and a single to their name, the band embarked on a mission to build their own studio before recording what is, undoubtedly, a wonderful and unique debut album. Co-produced and mixed by former Bob Marley/Led Zeppelin producer Phill Brown, ‘Dojo’ conveys and evokes a lovely vibe. The music is designed “to open your mind and spirit you away to new lucid dimensions” and even the album’s name ‘Dojo’ refers to “a place of learning and a state of mind”.
Despite the self-conscious attempt to communicate the band’s “thoughts on life and their understanding of the Universe”, ‘Dojo’ is far from being a ‘heavy’ album or a difficult listen. Indeed, the band’s name is derived from the French word ‘Jouissance’, translated as ‘high enjoyment” – a feeling that is transmitted to the listener from the gentle drums of opener ‘All That Is And Is One’, through the ‘kaleidoscopic psychotropism’ of ‘Earthly Emerald Eyes’ and the lyrical and melodic beauty of ‘Rain’, to the rousing arpeggio soloing of album closer ‘Universal Goggles’.
The musical influences and styles co-exist and mix peacefully. Tracks flow easily from one to the other, making ‘Dojo’ a supremely rewarding listening experience. It’s choc full of jazzy rhythms, laconic grooves, warming melodies, seemingly effortless tempo changes and deft musical touches. Blink and you’ll miss the cool but subtle segue from ‘Loop’ to the stirring instrumental ‘What’s New Guru?’ Elsewhere, ‘Hyperception’s critique of consumerism (“Mass consumption breeds corruption”) and the environmental concern of the musically rich (and enriching) ‘Misty Maker Stomp’ display lyrical themes that recur throughout and urge reflection on the nature of the world and man’s place in it.
If I hadn’t already written my favourite albums of 2014 list, ‘Dojo’ would be right up there, pushing for a top ten finish. It’s dreamy and joyful. Food for the soul.