Portland, ME electronic outfit Jaw Gems is a collective of young, experimental producers bringing beat-music – traditionally programmed and played on samplers – to a live band setting. Since forming in 2009, Jaw Gems has slowly adopted an intricate arsenal of instruments, including drums, bass, and dueling vintage synthesizers, a Roland sp404 and a Juno 106 analog synth, as well as more modern beat-repeating and sample-warping technologies. The versatility of the band’s tools, as well as the varying approaches of their members leads to a highly complex electro-hip-hop flavor on their second album HEATWEAVER, recently released on STS9’s 1320 Records.
Channeling the sounds of idiosyncratic producers both old (J-Dilla) and new (Flying Lotus), HEATWEAVER plays like the soundtrack to blunt session montage from a 90’s hip-hop film, with thick clouds of smokey sounds billowing across enthralling synth melodies, propelled by high hat-heavy breaks.
Up-beat, clap-along jams like “Da Vinci”, “Worship”, and “Studded” milk the live aspect if this hybrid act, while spaced out joints like “Peace Pipe”, “Born God” and the slow-burning ambiance-drenched R&B jam “Side King” pay homage to J-Dilla’s unique swing, at once jarring and engaging.
This is not an album that you can fully appreciate with one listen. With so much going into it—so many layers and levels of ambient harmony and creeping synth samples—you pick up something new every time you listen. And it’s not just what’s on the record, it’s what it evokes that’s not there that makes this album intriguing. This is music you go deep to, get inside your head to, contemplate the world to—a goal the members of Jaw Gems undoubtedly aimed for in creating their newest release. Put your headphones on, light one up, throw on HEATWEAVERS on repeat, and prepare your mind for a journey.