Let’s just start by saying what Jauz is droppin’ has our jaws droppin’. We have teased since the announcement of this album that it would come under our microscope for dissection, and we are here to deliver. So please join us as we review Jauz’s second album The Wise and The Wicked.
Jauz has been nothing but excited to present us with his latest album, and we have been nothing but excited to receive it. And wow, we could not have been more surprised or truly moved. It is clear that Jauz was set to do something so different, and made that goal come to fruition. The Wise and The Wicked is a 23 long story construed in the brain of a freshly 25 year-old man, and told through the music he is able to create. A book with no author, but an artist; with no pen and paper, but rhythm and sound; with no cover and binding but speakers and decibels.
Our book begins, as any good book should, by establishing our essential elements. “Prologue: The Wise and The Wicked” paints our characters, setting, and major conflict. Instantly the prophet like voice of the narrator and the gentle piano background radiates a feeling of sadness. You can feel the clouds over the world as he tells us the doom that has fallen over the Earth we call home. His use of “we” and “our” give us equal ownership of the future that has come- that we were welcomed into by pressing play on the album.
A barren “wasteland”, that we could only imagine before, is now our home. We as the listeners have become one of the few remaining life-forms which he speaks of. Stuck in what we imagine a dreary dark version of a Mad Max dystopia, we are now presented with our main conflict: choice. We as the listener are made aware of two factions in this ending world, one of which we must join. These factions are where the title of the album root. We must choose the wise or the wicked.
These two factions are a fork in the road for us as the listener. We are forced to choose to fight and strive to keep the world alive, or to let the world burn and be reborn. If we choose the Wise, we could use technology and knowledge to maybe fix the world, or simply delay the inevitable. If we choose the Wicked, we live primal and impulsive. As the Wicked we would revel in chaos and violence hoping the world is a phoenix that burns out to be born again, but we risk just losing the world all together. Our choice lies here, waiting to be made.
After the narration gives us our directive, the music begins this battle for our decision. We hear these sounds that clearly identify each side of the battle. Techy higher sounds that pull us toward the Wise, and grimy dark sounds that beckon us to be Wicked. The pull of the Wise and the Wicked continues into our next two songs.
“Babylon” continues the feud for our allegiance. The song uses lyrics that are parallel for each side of the ensuing battle between Wise and Wicked. Just as in the story of Babylon, there is no understanding between the people in the city. Each is speaking a different language to reach different agendas. “Wicked Babylon” refers to the way that each faction sees the other; where the other faction resides is the place where evil is conjured. Between these to places, is where we as the listener stand: between to massive cities built so differently. A city built on ruins, lit by roaring fires, rusted and worn, filled with screaming war painted tribesmen lies on one side. While on our other side, we see a city glowing with electricity, built anew from remade raw material, clean and advanced, protected by stoic armored men. Each city echoes the cry, “Wicked Babylon, your days are numbered” to the other, and their sounds battle for your attention, during the song.
“Babylon” ends and brings us to this song that seems to be from neither faction, but narrating us as the listener. “In the Zone” is our hypes song as the listener. There is a unique sound that is neither pulling for the Wise of the Wicked. This is the time in our story that we are choosing. Over the next two chapters, our decision will be made. As the prologue ends, we are getting “In the Zone” for the decision ahead.
With a taste of both the Wise and the Wicked from the prologue, it is time to meet each faction extensively. A decision cannot be made off of a simple summary by the prologues narrator. We cannot fully judge the city by simply being outside of it. We need to truly know each faction before we pledge allegiance. And so enters “Chapter 1: Discover [The Wise]”.
The albums first chapter is told from the perspective of the Wise. The voice of a woman begins the audio track. She has a refined and seemingly soft voice. A seeming attitude of superiority when referring to the Wicked is evident. Her outline of the Wise leads us to believe that there is a safeness, maturity, and enlightenment that comes with joining the Wise. This precedent sets the tone for what the Wise should be like.
The showcase what the wise advertise continues as we spend time with them during this chapter. We feel all of the attributes that define the Wise through “Diamonds”, “Eager”, and “Soldier”. “Diamonds” showcases the soft feeling, yet enlightenment. Through the soft female vocals that move into tech sounds mixed with modified strings there is the element of technology as well as refinement that define the Wise. “Diamonds” is the welcome of the Wise, which makes “Eager” the embrace of the Wise. Eager has this steady snare that makes you want to move, with the mix of “working tech sound”. You hear the computer like chime mixed with a sound that sounds like a drill sputtering. “Eager” moves you into the work phase of being the Wise. There is a sense of invention, experimenting, and creating with “Eager”. After any experiment there is the testing phase, which hopefully leads to success. Jauz creates this phase in “Soldier”. Throughout the song there are builds with the vocals into these soft bass hits that add energy. You can feel your creation from “Eager” being used and succeeding through the energetic but smooth sound of this song.
Beyond just the musical vibe of each song, there is also a recurring factor about Chapter 1 that should be noted. All of the songs have one word titles, with no misspelling, or vulgarity. The sense of refinement permeates the words of the Wise, the beats of the Wise, and the rhythm of the wise into their song titles. Even one step further, the finished and intelligent feel goes into the lyrics. Each song in Chapter one has verses and a chorus. The songs talk about emotion and feelings. These songs demonstrate in every aspect the Wise’s attributes.
We have now experienced the Wise. We have seen the inside of their city, we have met the people, we have embraced their way of life… but we need not forget there is another side to this. It is now time to take the Wicked out for a test drive. “Chapter 2: Wicked Nature [Wicked]” is our introduction to the other side of the world we entered into when we pressed play.
From the first word uttered in “Wicked Nature”, we know we are truly in a whole new world. The booming voice of man asserts itself in our ears. This mans voice conjures up the ideas of nature and its cyclical destruction. His speaking talk about the Wise who you just met ignites a flame of hate in your chest. You feel a sense of betrayal, anger, and destruction contort your body into a shape that is ready to fight the most heinous beast. Wickedness paints your skin for war. Your preparation and stoking of that primal fire takes place for the next three songs.
“Motherfuckers” begins your embracing of the Wicked. You cave to let your mouth just cry out the most vulgar words. You let your anger come out as raw as it can. The song uses dark house tones to fuel feelings of aggression and crazed nature. The steady hitting bass also gives this sense of preparation; what the preparation is for is fo you to decide. These dark and raw vibes given by “Motherfuckers” continues into “Acid or Techno”. The song continues this scary house idea. This terrifying trip vibe is providing us instability by making creating uncertainty and unpredictability. Both of which are defining factors of nature and destruction, and cause the listener to be defensive and aware. The songs are turning us into a beast of the ending world. “Get Widdit” is at the end of this transformation. The rap, fast tempo, mix of dubstep and dark house give this song a chaos. You can feel being in the city just doing whatever the FUCK you want- no consequences. The whole city is a mosh pit and you feel absolutely invincible because you have fully given into the chaos and destruction that is nature. You can feel the monster in you has fully emerged.
It is again crucial to notice the blatant contrast created between the Wise and the Wicked. Jauz creates this opposition through beyond just the sound of the songs. In blatant opposition, the song titles of the Wicked are vulgar, misspelled with slang, and multiple words. The song titles for the Wicked demonstrate the disregard for proper or clean, but rather saying and doing things however. The lyrics emulate the same. There is no “art” to the lyrics- they are there as a vessel for aggression and confusion. Using the same lines over and over, not using higher level speech that refers to something. Rather the lyrics are chant-able: war cries for the Wicked. Each song is crafted to embody the group it belongs to.
Now our story seems to take a little twist. We at Where’s the Vibe love this album so deeply and it does, but Chapter 3 confused us a little. After a couple listen throughs though, we think we have figured it out. The following is our interpretation of what the story tells. If you have not listened to the album fully on your own, it may be best to do that now, so we don’t spoil the narrative for you as we talk about the entirety of Chapters 4 and 5.
So returning to the beast that Chapter 2 has made us, we as the listener are angry, hell-bent on destruction, and looking for the world to burn. We all collectively made the decision to be Wicked- by design of Jauz’s narrative. There really was no choice we had to make, because this is a prewritten story, where we are moving along the story line (this is huge in understanding the remainder of the album, and what took us so many listen throughs to get). We have to choose the Wicked, because it is what makes us return to the Wise. We are looking for war, storming their city, when “Chapter 3: The Search for Meaning [The Wise]” plays.
The monologue, that begins the third chapter, is given again by the matronly voice from Chapter 1. This monologue is given to you as a sobering from the chaos that the Wicked left you in. The Wise are not looking to destroy the Wicked, they do not want to wage war with the Wicked, they do not want to become animals. Instead they strive for expansion, compassion for humanity as a whole, and to use both the mind and heart to lead. She is implanting the thought into our red-seeing mind, in hopes the thought will snap us away from the consuming anger. She is asking us to understand the whole situation, now that we have seen both sides. The thought process of battling with both ideas is Chapter 3.
“Frequency”, “Rave With Me”, and “Fade” are the songs that are our synthesis of the Wise and the Wicked. Just like “In The Zone” from Prologue, the songs have a different sound. They are neither Wise nor Wicked. Instead they are our song. “Frequency” has this chill synth with muffled bass that hits hard. It emulates a contemplation. The lyrics talk about seeing someone else’s frequency. How they are blind to so many things because of stubbornness. This is our Wise mind talking to our Wicked mind. A lamentation to get it to understand.
“Frequencies” inner dialogue then transfers into a invitation. “Rave With Me” is the Wise telling the Wicked how life can be.
“Do you wanna get lost with me?
And thousands like us, can feel the energy
We could flow away
We don’t have to go back, baby, we could stay”
These lyrics show this invitation to be one. To combine both the Wicked and Wise into one energy. You can even feel the union with the higher snares and synth during the lyrics building into a darker synth with high tempo snare. This synthesis of the light and the dark within our own thought process is personified by the music. The Wise is allowing some Wicked into itself in order to show that this can work. We realize there is common ground- a place for Wise with Wicked and Wicked with Wise.
After this realization, the final ploy to combine forces comes with “Fade”. This song through changing tempo shows a somber sincerity as well as a anticipatory excitement. The song itself is beautiful, and again clearly a song for the us as the listener not the Wise or the Wicked. It has that unique sound, that also allows the lyrics to shine once again. Yet again, the make of the song matched the story told by the lyrics. “Fade” tackles how we crave love and do not have things under control. The sense of no control is made worse by having wounds from not being with someone, and no amount of time heals those wounds: “It don’t seem to fade”. Of course this makes a great missing-your-ex-because-you-broke-up song, but it is so crucial to the album story. It is our realization that we can’t heal the world alone, and the love we miss is being human together. No matter how hard the Wise or the Wicked try to abandon the other and save the world how they see fit, they can never do so because not having the other is a wound time cannot heal. And being wounded means we can’t put everything we have behind saving the world. “Fade” is us realizing that neither the Wicked or the Wise can do anything for the world alone. Queue track 16!
“Chapter 4: Becoming United [The United]” is the resolution to our resounding conflict of choice. The resolution to choice is synthesis. Ultimately the album is saying being human and not being able to choose one over the other IS what will save us. Being human is a synthesis of being The Wise and The Wicked (whoa…). You’re not supposed to choose as a character in this story, because it should be too hard. Too hard to choose being all Wise or all Wicked, too hard to choose being all impulse or all calculation, too hard to choose between 3 bomb ass Jauz songs and another 3 bomb ass Jauz songs. The story told is admitting that humanity is no one thing, or no one way- it is the way it is to balance itself. Through that unity is where we find balance…. and people to RAGE OUR DAMN FACES OFF WITH FOR THE LAST SEVEN SONGS OF JAUZ SECOND ALBUM!!!!
The last chapter of The Wise and The Wicked is some of the best music ever. It just makes you crazy happy. There are different tempos, beat types, and seeming vibes, but it is the synthesis of all the music on the album. It is the idea of unity put into music. You can hear where Jauz pulls from the Wise, the Wicked, and the songs made for us to makes the last chapter. All of these songs make you “shuffle the cheese deck”- that’s right it’s time to learn another Where’s the Vibe vocab word.
“Shuffle the cheese deck” is defined as songs (or successions of songs/sets) that bring you a smile regardless no matter what. The songs that have you smiling the whole time, and then when it is moving away from the drop or into another song when the next drop or hook hits it makes your dulling smile return to maximum width and teeth showage while also increasing your dancing movement back to maximum overs drive. It’s like shuffling a deck of cards, and every time you go to draw a card its exactly what you need. You get nervous it may not be for a second, but then you flip it and then it’s exactly what you need again- and in this case its a cheese every time.
Well that concludes our album review of The Wise and The Wicked. It took a couple listens to really understand the story being told by Jauz, but it really was like reading an amazing book. We loved it on the first listen through, and then every read after we saw something we missed and made us love it even more. Thank you to Jauz for the truly amazing album, and for doing something so unique for the EDM community. This album provided such a killer list of songs to listen to, but also provided a complexity and puzzle like feel to a genre that is not alway credited with those aspects. If you made it all the way through, thank you and congratulations. But that brings this review to a close.
Until next week. Peace.