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Two months back, we were lucky enough to witness Magic Mountain High’s UK debut live show, which took place at south London’s Corsica Studios. You might not be familiar with Magic Mountain High – the men behind this utopian name are in fact David Move D Moufang and Juju & Jordash’s Jordan Czamanski and Gal Aner. After meeting in Italy two years ago, the three-piece started jamming together. After their first ever debut live show where they soundtracked a 1920 silent film, Der Golem, in Mannheim, this super group have been busying themselves with tours and their first EP, forthcoming on Workshop. I caught up with David, Jordan and Gal via email before their live show to find out what they’ve been up to recently.
Raised in Haifa, now residing in Amsterdam, ‘Juju & Jordash’ was born when they had to choose a name for their first EP, ‘The Hush’, on Psychostasia back in 2005. It is taken from their childhood nicknames – Gal means ‘Juju’, and Jordan stands for ‘Jordash’, “nothing very clever”, according to the duo. It’s very hybrid music we’re dealing with here, but the most striking thing is the insertion of jazz into electronic dance music. If you’re into ambient techno, Magic Mountain High’s third member, Heidelberg’s Move D, should need little introduction. Slow-building, sparse, minimal; he makes music that isn’t necessarily night-driving, but definitely evokes a certain penetrating ambiance so deep it asserts itself. In the profound depths of his subtle, bottomless, hypnotic techno there is an effortless synth buzz, occasional warm and glowing guitar or keyboard chords, soft humming and tender whisper; all weaving together to construct a soundscape that locks the elements into a rippling groove. 2011 has been fruitful for Move D so far; having released ‘Hydrophonics’ on Uzuri, he follows up the EP returning to Workshop to handle its thirteenth installment.
Juju & Jordash’s most distinguished record, the self-titled LP that came out on Dekmantle in 2009, stands on its own – deeply sombre, immensely atmospheric; its heart-throbbing percussive techno clatters, churning drum kicks, and twirling synth beats all lie in its multi-layered structure, celebrating the free-flowing approach that unconventionally redefines the boundary between electronic compostion and jazz. On the jazz influence that so naturally comes to them, Jordan and Gal quoted Wayne Shorter – ‘the word “Jazz” means to me no category’. Their latest EP, ‘Unleash The Golem Part 1’, is the first issue of a four-part EP+DVD series with a “more defined political atmosphere”, which inspiration came from their live performance for ‘Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam’, and their wrestling thoughts on Zionism, victimhood and vengeance.
Read our interview with Magic Mountain High below, and stream their UK debut live show on the top right.
What’s the story behind Magic Mountain High? How did this project come along? When did you guys first meet?
We met for the first time in Dancecity festival in Italy two years ago. Since then we met a few more times in various events around Europe, and one day [we] decided to link up in the studio and try to work on some music. We had a couple of fruitful sessions in David’s lab, and at that stage we decided that it’s time to have a real entity – Magic Mountain High.
I know you guys soundtracked Der Golem in Amsterdam, how did that go?
Actually, the performance took place at Cinemix Festival in Mannheim, it went really well.
Can you tell me more about the forthcoming Magic Mountain High release?
It is a 3-track EP that will be out on the lovely Workshop label. The tracks were all conceived during the same session not too long ago, and are more or less performed live in the studio, almost the same way they appear on record.
How did you approach this release differently to your other releases?
MMH is limited to the synths and instruments we use during the recording. [There aren’t] many overdubs and nor much mixing. We have been trying to keep it pure. [It’s more about] capturing a moment [and] less on emphasising the mixing process. In MMH we hook up the gear, press record, and play. MMH is direct, let the synths do the talking kinda approach.
I saw a video of your first live show on Youtube, to a certain degree it seems improvisational, is it a conscious departure from a memorised set of tracks, or is it just a natural progression?
Yes, we like the thrill of the unknown, [it] makes the live show a lot of fun for both us and the crowd.
Can you break down your individual role in Magic Mountain High for us?
It changes all the time, we select a couple of synths or a drum machine and take it from there.
Your musical style as Move D and Juju & Jordash obviously differ, how do the three of you, as a group, draw the line when coming to production?
Our tastes are actually not that different, and since we try to keep it close to the way it sounds live, we don’t really have that problem.
Are there any other sounds that you would like to explore but haven’t gotten to yet?
There are always more sounds…
How closely do you work together?
We don’t meet often enough, but when we do, we don’t leave the studio for days.
Do you guys like working collaboratively?
I think collabs are good for control freaks like us. [It] forces us to be open.
What’s up next for you guys? Things that you most looking forward to?
Next month we are doing a Magic Mountain High live show at the Dancecity festival in Foligno, Italy, where we first met. We are working on an album as well.