- When a Storm Comes
- Like a Woman Scorned
- Death and the Moonlight
- We Keep Marching On
- The Absence of Laughter
- Wayfarer's Dream
- Don't Turn Away
- The Great Divide
- The Dark Spiral of Time
- The Absence of Laughter (Piano)
From the first dramatic sequence through the highs and lows of the journey that is The Absence of Laughter, Jason Zac Band constructs a self-contained world that is both beautiful and dark. Eclectic, powerhouse talent is harnessed in this stunning expression of a myriad of feelings. The band has progressive chops to keep casual and music-literate listeners hooked. The lyrical content is elevated by the choir, and the instrumentation is brilliant. The transitions in moods and feelings are mediated by thoughtful orchestration. Fearlessly written and masterfully mixed, JZB’s album requires that you take the time and listen.
“The best thing about it? Faith finds a new beginning.”
– Redemption, on The Absence of Laughter by Jason Zac Band
The first step in the musical journey of this album is a synthesis of many beautiful and haunting variations. The quickened pace in ‘Don’t Turn Away’ drives the song. The breakdown on this track is terrific, with the heavy strings and swing feel keeping you locked in and nodding. And just when you get comfortable, the fast-paced rhythm takes over, returning you back to the baseline. ‘Redemption’ takes the same feel and somehow softens it, allowing you to reflect on the stunning mix of this track. The vocals and harmonies redeem the dark mood from the first two tracks, and leaves you wondering where will this go?
‘Jellyfish’ at first strikes you as the middle-of-album ballad, but in what is becoming true JZB spirit, the middle of the track snaps into a hook that I could have sworn I was ready for. The way the soundscape expands while still being vocal-centered is sheer brilliance. The sawtooth lead synth solo leading into the harmonized bass-vocal section is held together superbly with the drums. One thing to keep in mind is how intricately different musical flavours have been woven together into stunning tracks. There is no wasting time trying to get the listener’s attention. Anything that is not prominent in the mix exists to provide the exact tone and feel that the band wants to you experience. This has been so meticulously executed that it may slip under the radar of the casual listener. Which, you should not be.
‘The Dark Spiral of Time’ is a return to the main path of this musical journey. The laughter and upswing feel is gone, but every time one feels overwhelmed by what is a heavy and sombre mood, JZB shifts the tone and feel just slightly, lending you the hope of a return to normalcy. ‘Wayfarer’s Dream’ has a lilting theme to it and is a spotlight on the band’s progressive capabilities. The same ideas are fleshed out extensively in the title track ‘The Absence of Laughter’, a fantastic showcase of the orchestration on this album – both with instruments and voices.
The journey takes a turn with ‘Parindey’ and the next track, ‘We Keep Marching On’. It is the catharsis you’ve been waiting for, and once again, when you feel you are at the top of the mountain, JZB’s higher purpose with this album throws you down into the depths with an anchor of ambient soundscapes, minor chords, motifs and lyrics to keep you rooted to the spot, courtesy ‘Death and the Moonlight’, perhaps the most dramatic track on the album. Bass and drums dominate ‘Like A Woman Scorned’, with a welcoming switch in feel and mood. The last track, a piano reprise, is like Jason’s last stand in the battle. Whimsical, deep, troubling – this track is a musical composition that oozes excellence.
JZB take the time to unfold and construct sequences with multiple layers that are so, so appealing – from crescendos to instrumental and vocal solos that are backed exquisitely by one another. Every track is like a fishing line with a tackle that floats on the water – you can stay on the surface, but you are free to sink in to explore and unravel the depths and intricacies. Start at the beginning and immerse yourself in this album. Don’t shuffle The Absence of Laughter on a playlist. Oh, and if you were wondering if one person could play twelve musical instruments, the answer is Jason Zachariah.