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Jullander | John Symmes' Welt (Beau Rivage)
Man the lifeboats! The good ship post-rock is sinking under the weight of its crew. Any innovators left within this scene would surely be insulted to have their music tagged with a term that now has such insipid associations. The genre has spawned far too many 'collectives' with poorly executed jazz pretensions. Look out! Here comes another one. Jullander are a standard four piece twin guitar/bass/drums set up from Hamburg, occasionally augmented by (wait for it) a saxophonist. It appears that they are quite keen on early Tortoise, for not only do they borrow their loping jazzy sound, but they also deliver it with all the grace and power of the aforementioned creature. In fact, this crew is so Tortoise, one feels inclined to break out the lettuce. The quirky Cardiacs style pop of Alte Meister kicks off the album, before heading into the over familiar post, out, lo-fi, look-at-me, instrumental, pseudo-intellectual, join-the-dots experimental rock territory. The token jazz card is played with the squalling saxophone creeping over the track 1 Aufzug, a deadpan monologue in English and German, evoking the mood of Can's Mother Upduff or The Velvet Underground's The Gift, but without the hard as nails riffing. Elsewhere, there are more clever time changes than a copy of 'Relayer'. And that's the problem. The post-rock scene has become too diluted by copyists all too eager to follow an extremely familiar pattern. The guilty parties are unfortunately churning out terrible progressive rock, despite their avant-garde aspirations. And we all know what happened to Prog, don't we? Sadly, Jullander's appropriation of the image of John Symmes, the 18th century 'Hollow Earth' theorist, ultimately backfires on the group, as their own musical journey is ultimately self-deluded and hollow, rather than an inspirational voyage of discovery.

Simon Berkovitch
November 2001