The band dispersed and moved on. Nistor went on tour drumming for Daniel Lanois, Koltak joined Saturday Looks Good to Me, Palma went back to school and Johnson became a father. From burnout and a search for authenticity began a new period of collaboration between Johnson and Palma. They would meet regularly to learn new software and experiment with creating their own sample banks. Eventually the duo took the work they had been developing into the studio to make what they had hoped would be the next Judah Johnson release.
Instead they came out with the darkest and most fractured music either of them had ever created. They ultimately shelved the recording and turned their attentions toward making something that drew from the band's song-based past as much as its new sonic palette. Enter Andy Smith, an engineer who came up at New York's The Hit Factory working on albums from David Bowie to Public Enemy to Mariah Carey, with a true passion for synth programming, particularly the lost art of modular synthesis. Through a mutual contact Johnson and Smith met, bonded over their love of Talk Talk and made plans to co-produce the next Judah Johnson record together.
Recorded in just five days, Be Where I Be belies its swift creation. While the album captures the energy and immediacy of a quick session, its meticulous production style has more in common with studio rats like Kate Bush and Prince than most rock records. Palma says this is due in part to a mixing style where large chunks of textural experimentation are picked over to embellish the core performances, giving the illusion of a longer session. Johnson credits inspiration.
"It sounds crazy but I don't really remember playing the stuff I played. I listen back to the record and if you told me it was someone else I would believe you." Thrilled, the band left the studio with new optimism. Then waited... and waited while Smith got tied up overseas working with Brian Eno on a new Paul Simon record.
Nearly a year later, it was finished and, without overstating, it sounds like nothing else: immaculate, yet messy; carefully considered while full of accidents. It's less a statement of a new direction than a sample of every stage of the band's development; yet it's also an attempt to pretend their past never happened. The album is a dream of something organic and colorful overtaking the machine. An imaginary place where the roots of Jamaican dub and the ruined futurism of 70s Berlin meet.
Its title, like a Zen koan in jive, is an invitation to experience the depth of emotion and ideas the band has invested into their music. It's an admission that even 21st century life is not entirely apocalyptic. Be Where I Be is the sound of reconciliation. It's the end of a debate.
Currently the band is enjoying a second chance. Koltak and Johnson have made their peace and are having a "second honeymoon." Keyboardist Noah Harris and guitarist Arun Bali have been added to the lineup, returning the band's live sound to its original five-piece thunder and allowing the textures of the album to be reproduced faithfully while continuing to reshape it. http://www.flameshovel.com/judahjohnson.php Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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