If you envision sound as an auditory sculpture, then the members of Jassanova are its elite artisans.
For those who still envision electronic music as nothing more than a soundtrack for 18-year-old glowstick-twirling ravettes dancing all night to the thump, thump, thump of redundant 4/4 techno, let me paint you a picture. Imagine a group of hard-working artisans, deconstructing existing works in all genres and recreating them with new sounds found in both old jazz and contemporary electronica. Envision a crew of hard-working artisans, carving out new sounds, while being completely respectful of music’s diverse cornucopia of beats, rhymes and life.
Jassanova has been reinventing other people’s sounds since 1997. After Gilles Peterson, legendary owner and operator of Talkin’ Loud, played the single “Fedime’s Flight” on his radio show, the Berlin-based crew has been asked to remix a wide variety of artists. The musical collective consists of deejays (J?rgen von Knoblauch, Alexander Barck and Claas Brieler) and producers (Stefan Leisering, Axel Reimer and Kosmo), whose sound showcases a love for jazz and the beats of contemporary club music, with plenty of other influences spread throughout. Its remixes stay true to their musical tastes and artistic integrity – they’re smooth, seductive and, most importantly, really fun. Jassanova manages to maintain the funk, while simultaneously upholding extremely high standards for the quality of their productions.
In order to ensure a quality remix, they often spend months in the studio to rework one song in a completely new fashion, while still retaining the song’s integrity and initial vision. The practice is almost similar to a professional artist commissioned to paint a portrait – while his portrait might render the subject in a different way than another painter would, a unique, distinctive style is always present.
However, Jassanova’s style style of remixing is more closely related to the postmodern expression of pastiche.
“I think it can be an art form, but you have to be respectful. You can’t steal or rip off half of a song,” deejay Alexander Barck explains. “But cut-and-paste; it’s something like the spirit of today. We’re continuing an art form formed in, let’s say, 1980. Hip hop and dance music with better possibilities.”
Two CDs worth of remixes from the last four years recently have been collected and released on Compost Records, a label formed by Jassanova and label-owner Michael Reinboth in 1998. In addition to the creation of a new label, Jassanova has found itself busy with other projects as well. Aside from finishing an upcoming album and producing music for poet Urusula Roker, the group recently formed Sonarkollektiv, an alliance of different Berlin musicians and artists.
“It’s more of a roof over several small labels,” Barck says. “[It’s] more a name for people who want to work together.”
Sonarkollektiv’s mission is to provide resources for a variety of artists, so that they don’t have to worry about the business of art while they pursue their various crafts. And there’s no limit to the kinds of art Sonarkollektiv supports. If, for example, a painter became a member of Sonarkollektiv and wanted to have an exhibition, that’d be just fine.
“[Sonarkollektiv] is a full spectrum. We have a graphic design department and a film and video department,” he says. “Not everything is related to music.”
Barck hopes that one day, Sonarkollektiv will be realized before the name Jassanova. Until then, he wants to make it clear that, “We are not a band. We are studio guys.”