Something a little different on LBYB today: a feature about jaguars! No, obviously not. That said, I do probably know more about jaguars than I do about the actual subject of the post, Jagwar Ma. Like Martyn of Pinemarten, the gentleman behind it prefers to remain largely anonymous. What I can tell you is that his real name is Jono Ma; that he spends his time between Berlin and Australia; and that you probably know of his brother - or at least his brother’s work - even if you don’t realise it.
Why’s that? Well, his brother’s Dave Ma - a.k.a. the guy who directed every Foals video. Not to mention Delphic’s “This Momentary”, Wild Beasts’ “Albatross”, Wolf Gang’s “Lions In Cages”, and so on. I imagine this is the sort of contact that’s probably quite useful when you’re in the music industry. And funnily enough, Jono has also done some work with Foals, and they’re due to unleash their remix chops on his debut single, “Come Save Me”. Nice.
Let’s be clear, though: Jono’s music - at least, the teasing snippets I’ve heard so far - are perfectly capable of standing up on their own merits. I’m not entirely sure what to make of it: it’s something of an eclectic bag of styles from across the past fifty-odd years. “Come Save Me” has a feel of Kasabian or Death In Vegas, which I guess equates to old-school psychedelia filtered through a big beat/rave-inspired ’90s-Manchester rock lens (no, I’m not proud of that description). The drums come courtesy of Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa. Also nice.
The other tracks up on his Soundcloud are “What Love?” and a remix of The Bumblebeez’s “Betty Jane”. Both deliver a pulsing, hypnotic brand of house; Mike Bradford of The Recommender hit the nail on the head with his comparison to The Orb. “Betty Jane” especially is pretty darn weird, but then so was the original, and it works. For the life of me I can’t decide whether that’s a Radiohead sample at the end, or if it’s “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, or something else entirely. Whatever, it’s been on repeat all evening and I’m still not bored.
It was pretty much inevitable I was going to be drawn to Jono’s music given his influences. For starters, he mentions Andrew Weatherall, who co-produced Primal Scream’s “Screamadelica”, and whose remix of My Bloody Valentine’s “Soon” is a bit of a blinder. As it happens, The Orb also had production credits on “Screamadelica” - small world, huh? Also mentioned are The Avalanches - literally the best thing about Australia, ever - and Phil Spector - literally a very famous and influential guy who I needn’t bash on about.
Still, there’s no need to take it from me: you can stream all three tracks below. Keep a look out for “Come Save Me”, which gets formally released in February (something tells me it might have quite a good video to accompany it). And expect to hear a lot more from Jagwar Ma next year.