Return To The Island is a set of 8 “songs”, produced by Isle Of Jura boss, Kevin Griffiths, under his Jura Soundsystem alias. The pieces, strongly influenced by the nature surrounding Kevin`s rural South Australian home, are peppered with field recordings – birdsong, and breezes blowing though palms. Composed during the quiet and isolation provided by Covid and the pandemic, the selections add up to a perhaps predictably chilled-out, but varied album, ranging in tempo from beatless ambient, to seductive, slo-mo house. The opening An Interlude In Paradise, for example, could be a clipping from Virginia Astley`s cult classic, From Gardens Where We Feel Secure. A happy memory captured on tape, accompanied by pretty piano, and rich with reverb. Meanwhile, Crystal Voyager is a bumping and skipping mid-tempo mover that mixes acidic twists with its mellow marimba and feather-like, Fairlight-like cries and whispers. Whatever Happens, Happens, similarly, is a cool take on the template of firm loved-up favourites, such as Culturebeat`s Cherry Lips.
The breaks and bubbling b-line of Freediving In The Tropical Zone invoke the still in vogue sound of early `90s street soul. With its clipped guitar, congas, cowbell, and 80s electro-boogie bass, King Of Aldinga could almost be classified as spaced-out jazz-funk. Romantic strings off-setting its ping-ponging programmed melody. Love Always Wins constructs its beats from collaged breathing – with edits a la Art Of Noise – while borrowing an instantly recognizable Tom Clay spoken word sample (once made famous by Deee-Lite).
In places, such as Linn Fun`s combination of gentle tribal tom tom rhythms and afro / cosmic electronics, the music recalls Jasper Vant Hof`s Pili Pili project. In others, like the standout closing cut, Inhale Exhale, it`s cinematic. Sighs and storms segueing through eruptions of echo and delay, and topped off by a sweet saxophone solo.
Released on September 9, Jura Soundsystem`s Return To The Island is available to pre-order over at Bandcamp.