Anomalous Events, by Al Joshua
Suggested by Stuart Emerson
Let’s consider jenkem.
If you don’t know the word, you needn’t worry. I didn’t either, until I started this review. Don’t Google the word, yet, as its meaning will soon become clear.
It’s a fun word, almost jaunty in aspect, a giddy portmanteau of Jenga and Mackem. Its meaning makes mock of those two separate parts, as it’s no towering stack of Sunderland residents, planked in threes, toe to toupee, hammered loose until they topple.
I’m loathe to define it immediately. I’m building suspense, making you guess which colour I’ve nailed to this tree, and I fear stepping straight to the chorus lest the fun fade. When I started my 1/10 review of Los Angeles by Flying Lotus with “historically, urine has a variety of uses”, even the most obtuse reader knew the way the wind was blowing.
Wikipedia defines Jenkem thusly:
Jenkem is an inhalant and hallucinogen created from fermented human waste. In the mid-1990s, it was reported to be a popular street drug among Zambian children. They would reportedly put the feces and urine in a jar or a bucket and seal it with a balloon or lid respectively, then leave it out to ferment in the sun; afterwards they would inhale the fumes created.
Anomalous Events, by Al Joshua, is one-hundred-percent unadulterated jenkem. It’s a literal jar of piss and sh*t, capped with a rancid balloon, basking under an unrelenting sun, spewing off toxic and mentally corrosive gas.
The first listen, in April, left me apoplectic with white-hot rage. How dare this turgid, meandering spunkbubble sound present itself as a crafted and considered creation? It’s the waffling whines of a substratum sh*tgibbon, a catastrophic eulogy to a wet fart that’s neither too smelly to offend nor too loud to raise a smile. It’s an unequivocal waste of fifty minutes.
For the entire album – the entire album – Al Joshua creepily whispers his sub-teen poetry, with no musicality in the delivery, and certainly no music in the backing. I listened with a sense of growing incredulity as Joshua meandered through faux-earnest recitals with asinine titles like The Boy With The Pigeon Chest, longing for something, anything, to actually happen. It took until the penultimate track of thirteen for anything other than a mumbling idiot to grace my speakers, and if anything the guitar-driven Green Valley was the worst of the lot. My standout track, It’s Going To Rain, is a ninety second recording that’s utter bullsh*t.
Listening today, I felt the anger welling up again, my metaphorical jenkem balloon swelling with noxious faecal discharge. But let’s attempt kindness. The absolute nicest thing I can say about Anomalous Events is that it’s reminiscent of a Sunday afternoon, in the family home, as you half-listen to your tispy father humming nonsensically in the kitchen while he makes his legendary gravy for the upcoming roast. But this glow of nostalgia fades quickly when you pop into the kitchen for a drink, only to find your father has binned the gravy and is huffing fumes from the family sh*tbucket after vomiting on the lamb shanks.
This album is the strongest reason I needed a break. But now I’m back. New day, new me. No mercy, sweep the leg.
Anomalous Events gets 0/10.
Jenkem, start to finish.