Last Thursday I had the pleasure to see the unstoppable prog-jazz force that is Jaga Jazzist for the third time and the second time in two years. It was an incredible show (duh), and if you haven’t experienced them yourselves yet I honestly cannot recommend them enough because hearing them on record really only gives you half of what they can do. But this post obviously isn’t about Jaga Jazzist, who you shouldn’t need me reminding you to listen to. This post is about the band that opened for them. Aiming For Enrike are a drum and guitar duo also from Norway. Using a combination of mathy riffs, schizophrenic drumming, and a lot of loops, the two are a rollicking force of nature that will knock you straight on your ass if you’re not expecting it.
The easiest comparison I can make to these two are the eclectic dance-math sounds of Battles, and the two certainly seem to share many of the same qualities. Like their American counterparts, Aiming For Enrike will usually start their songs with a relatively simple idea or groove and use that foundation to grow and morph those ideas into complex walls of sound that just positively explodes while still making you want to bounce around. In many ways though AFE are even more adventurous and willing to get weird and noisy. But in the end they always come back to the groove. Tracks like “Japan” and “Super Happy Feelings Forever” off of their 2012 debut LP Mao Miro are great examples of this, as they could certainly be mistaken for Battles tracks, but the kind that they might put together in a crazy jam session and eventually deem too wild to put to track.
Their new album, Segway Nation, is just as spontaneous while expanding their sound even further. Opener “Newspeak” is all muscle, going for broke on the back of a single riff that manages not to overstay its welcome. “Billion Year Contract” is a slow-grower, hitting a perfect mechanical feel and a groove that wouldn’t feel out of place on a And So I Watch You From Afar album. For one drummer and guitarist they’re able to pull off a remarkable amount of sonic diversity and space, and unlike many duos of this nature, they feel utterly complete as is.
If nothing else, the band’s set got Jaga drummer (and professional spirit animal) Martin Horntveth literally bouncing up and down for minutes on end. And the crowd was right there along with him. It was a great set that set the tone for the rest of the evening perfectly. This is a band definitely worth your time and then some. Their first EP and LP are available on Bandcamp, and Segway Nation is out on all the other major streaming platforms. You can and should follow them on Facebook here.