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Afrikan Majik

Je Suis France

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Album Review

The band Je Suis France is not French, and its third full-length album, Afrikan Majik, has nothing, apparently, to do with Africa. It does, however, concern itself with many other things, which may be a product of the size and diversity of a group that began as a quartet in Athens, GA. Consisting of DJ Hammond (aka OJ), Ryan "The Darkness" Martin (aka Darkness), Chris Rogers (aka Crog), and Ryan Bergeron (aka Iceberg), the band expanded into a sextet with the addition of Jeff Griggs and Sean Rawls (aka SA) by the time of its second album, Fantastic Area, in 2003, and now counts itself as a nonet with new members Jon Croxton, Jeremy Weatley (aka the Lord), and Ken Henslee (aka KG). Je Suis France's territory has also grown, with Martin having moved to Boston, Rawls to San Francisco, Rogers to Los Angeles, and Hammond and Bergeron to Atlanta. Listening to Afrikan Majik, it would be easy to assume that the members have come to think of Je Suis France as little more than a clearinghouse for their various ideas, since the record sounds like the work of different artists from one track to the next. "Sufficiently Breakfast," which leads things off, is 16 minutes of a mostly instrumental psychedelic jam band improvisation; "That Don't Work That Well for Us" is a short folk-pop tune; "Wizard of Points," which employs a vocoder, is reminiscent of the '80s synth-pop of Devo; "101 Miles and Runnin'" is garage rock; "Chemical Agents" is folk-rock; "Feeder Band" is a Brian Eno-style sound-effects-laden instrumental; "The Love of the France" is a pop/rock song; "California Still Rules" is an instrumental that recalls the Mission: Impossible theme; and "Never Gonna Touch the Ground" draws on Jamaican dub. There isn't anything really new in any of this, but it does sound like a bunch of people having a lot of fun messing around with different sounds, perhaps without regard to what their fellow bandmembers may be doing in different cities. Perhaps they should change the name to "Nous Sommes les Balkans."

Biography

Formed: Athens, GA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

One of the many bands hanging on the fringe of the Athens indie rock scene, eclectic in-jokesters Je Suis France balance a healthy penchant for garage rock and craggy instrumental epics harkening back to the early days of Built to Spill with an adventurous Camper Van Beethoven anything-goes-aesthetic (which is appropriate seeing that they released their first album on David Lowery's Pitch-a-Tent label). And while their band persona — with members having names like Darkness and Iceberg, their...
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Afrikan Majik, Je Suis France
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