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Change Is Forecast. - 70%

Perplexed_Sjel, November 21st, 2007

'Pale Sketches' is another of Jesu's many unique records. This best of compilation contains unreleased songs dating as far back as the year 2000. Considering that fact, it makes perfect sense that this compilation is different with every song. Only a band like Jesu could change their style so many times within the period of time they have been a band. Broadrick and co. have an amazing ability to adapt to experimentation to fulfill their needs. They've never failed to disappoint their fans and 'Pale Sketches' is just another example, in a long list of examples, that just indicates what a phenomenal band Jesu are. Jesu can skip from genre to genre at ease. Playing a style of music that fits the bill for a whole range of audiences. 'Pale Sketches' is a perfect example of how effortlessly Jesu can switch from one song to another, going through a long line of genres, yet still manage to keep everyone happy. From fans of their drone inspired dirges, to fans of their more recent styling of shoegaze and post-rock. All the while, Jesu manage to incorporate industrial music into their style. Whether you're a fan of metal or not, Jesu contain aspects of so many genres that they are bound to appeal to a wide ranging audience.

'Pale Sketches' is an insight into the experimentation aspect of the British act. Its a compilation that essentially showcases the endeavors of the band to achieve a divine right to own whatever genre they decide they want to perform in. What struck me most about 'Pale Sketches' is the more focused nature of Jesu on the industrial side to their game. This is an aspect of Jesu achieved most notably by the programming that Justin inflicts on Jesu's music and on the audience. The programming that has gone into 'Pale Sketches' is top notch. An ambient selection of tracks has been chosen extremely carefully. From one song to the next, each track contains an ambiance specific to itself and unlike any Jesu song we've heard before. Whereas on Jesu's self-titled debut, there isn't a set theme running throughout 'Pale Sketches'. It's completely unique, though the self-titled does have its own unique vibe coursing through its veins. Certain songs, perhaps 'The Playgrounds Are Empty' for example, reflect back on a style Jesu explored previously on 'Conqueror'. However, there are numerous differences between this material and the material that was on the second full-length. The vocals have matured. Justin's voice isn't limited to one particular style as we have seen in the past. Nowadays, Justin tends to stick to clean vocals. This is a theme that becomes familiar with the audience throughout 'Pale Sketches'. However, vocals aren't used all the way through. Sometimes they're completely omitted from songs, which keeps 'Pale Sketches' looking and sounding fresh.

Whenever the vocals don't come into play, the audience are subjected to ambient aspects of Jesu's game. These largely atmospheric pieces offer a new and previously unseen emotive side to Jesu, though they can sometimes become quite stale. Whilst I do enjoy the instrumental and industrial parts, I do prefer Jesu's music when vocals are present as if offers a lyrical context to the material. When vocals aren’t present, I sometimes find myself questioning the motives of the music, which leads to many unanswered questions about the origins of the songs. The vocals communicate with the audience more effectively than the instrumental pieces. Whilst this is the case, the industrial sections aren't disappointing, they're just different from what I had expected. What makes Jesu so unique is their ability to infuse industrial parts, which typically played guitar riffs. Low tuned guitars which portray an astral feel to the work are layered lushly over the programming elements that Justin brings to Jesu and that have existed within the band since the very beginning. The percussion isn't as noteworthy as certain other parts, but it is a side to Jesu that sets a different tone to their music. For the most part, the percussion acts as the driving force of aggression behind the music. Whilst this isn't an in-your-face type of aggression, it is noticeable. The wide ranging use of emotive soundscapes is particularly pleasing to the audience.

Songs like 'Dummy' give us something new to analyse and furthermore, relax to. That's one of the most striking elements as well, the fact that Jesu have taken away that powerful edge they had on the self-titled full-length. This doesn’t often become a negative factor until the stale elements return in the form of long ambient passages that merely drift lifelessly, instead of getting to the point. Although I hate to say it, some of the content seems largely uninspired. Although there is a new edge to Jesu, its not as forceful as it once was. The wall of noise approach from the self-titled piece has been demoted and dreamscapes have become apart of the furniture. This isn't disappointing for the most part, its just different. All in all 'Pale Sketches' offers something new to the fray. Something rather unexpected. Definitely worth a listen. Highlights would have to be 'Can I Go Now' & 'The Playgrounds Are Empty'