Dave W. is the founder of the New York City-based, fuzzed-out-motorik-space-rock band White Hills. Since starting the band in 2006 he has produced and released an album a year. White Hills tours the US and Europe, and appears in Jim Jarmusch’s upcoming film Only Lovers Left Alive. In his spare time, Dave can be found painting and collecting vinyl.
Music has always been an inward journey for me. Whether it’s by listening to others’ music or by creating my own, I use it as a tool to free myself from the pains of existence. Ever since I first experienced chills down my spine from hearing a song, I have continued to seek that experience — it’s like a drug that constantly keeps me searching and creating. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to have that experience again and find an album that helps you get through another day. Jesu’s Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came is one of those albums. It’s a highly personal journey that easily translates to the listener.
For those unfamiliar, Jesu is the brainchild of Justin Broadrick, who has been a fixture on the British scene since the mid ’80s, working with bands such as death metal/grindcore giants Napalm Death and the visionary noise/metal/grindcore band Head of David, although he’s best known for leading the industrial metal band Godflesh, which is how I first became familiar with his work.
I have always felt that music is a perfect tool for meditation. Many cultures have used mantras to aid in concentration while meditating. For some years now I have been fascinated with creating these within a rock music format. It’s what I strive to do every time I start writing a song. Broadrick has achieved just that with this album — he’s created a series of mantras to use as a tool to aid inner travel. Where you go once you are there is your journey. This album is just the conduit.
As on previous Jesu albums, Broadrick employs his usual arsenal of guitar, bass, vocals and programmed drums, but here, he’s joined by Nicola Manzan on strings, comprising a one-man orchestra on “The Great Leveler.” Strings really fill out Broadrick’s palette and take this album to a place where Jesu has not been before.
There is something to be said about a song in which time has no relevance. You get lost within the static nature of the tune. Where you are or how long you’ve been there have no meaning whatsoever. On Everyday I Get Closer… the epitome of that is “The Great Leveler.” At over 17 minutes of totally enveloping bliss, it creates a space where time stands still; nothing else matters but being lost within its sonic boundaries. All of one’s senses are caught up in the hazy fog of the melody. The vocal line unravels slowly against a heavy riff that has more movement than any other song on the album. It is this juxtaposition that adds to its unique meditative quality. It’s not background music in any sense — this is music that commands attention and provides a template for travel down deep into one’s own psyche.
This is introspective music. And so, in his own way, Broadrick follows in the path of great songwriters like Tim Buckley, Nick Drake, Alexander “Skip” Spence and so many more who have a way of touching you emotionally. The funny thing is, Jesu’s music is nothing like the aforementioned but it has the same affect. While at times dark, at other times it is the brightest light. It’s always ethereal and even in its darkest moments it’s uplifting. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel reminding you there is still hope.
Justin Broadrick is kind of a modern-day shaman, and Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came is healing, a cathartic rebirth, or the shedding of unwanted spiritual skin. The music might represent Broadrick’s own personal journey, but it touches on the universal.