At Cosmic Compositions, we’ve long felt there was a similarity between the avant-garde/free jazz scene of the 50s/60s and the modern beat generation. Both movements aimed to deconstruct, expand and rewire the conventions of their genres of origin, and were never afraid to experiment or work outside the commercial framework of the time. With our Avant Garde Series, we connected the dots between the two, paying homage to Empire State Musicians like Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, and Sun-Ra along the way.
In more recent years, we’ve sensed kindred spirit between jazz-infected beat music, and the new generation of lo-fi funk, psychedelia, noise, and folk musicians operating around the globe. While we’ve been feeling our way towards this liminal zone with projects from the likes of Mr. Armish, Affsid Kidjhagiffy, Aporia, and our Way Out compilation, jitwam’s new album ????? ???? might be the most beautiful expression of it we’ve released yet.
Born in Assam, Gauhati, in Northeast India, but currently based in New York’s storied borough of Brooklyn, jitwam spent his formative years in New Zealand and Australia, before living in monasteries in Thailand, orphanages in South Africa, and washed out apartments in London. Of everywhere and nowhere, his music draws influence from a litany of iconoclasts including, but not limited to RD Burman, Moondog, The Velvet Underground, Yayoi Kusama, Jay Electronica, Jay Dilla, Moodymann, Leon Thomas, Madlib and Asha Bhosle.
Across the album he utilises knowledge acquired through years spent digging through dusty crates, and talents honed as a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and vocalist. A series of stumbling, jazz/soul-rooted beat sculptures, each buried beneath a haze of fuzzy psychedelia, broken microphone blues, and articulated through a freestyled process he describes as “first thought, best thought”, ????? ???? solidifies jitwam’s spot as a major emerging talent.
Recalling the fourth world dreamscapes explored by oddball songwriters like Connan Mockasin, Clarence Clarity, Jai Paul, Silicon, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, it represents a time of transition and remembrance for jitwam, while still fulfilling the core qualities he looks for in song. In his words, “Music is a refuge. A shelter from the storm. A place you can go to close your eyes.”