New Music Enthusiast’s Club: Amatus

amatusAmatus – Broken Compass EP

Ah, the remix, the loving testament of re-imagining or reinterpreting a piece of audio art and putting one’s own sonic stamp on it. They’re fun to listen to, and it’s always a joy to discover one that equals, if not improves upon, the original jam…which brings us to producer Jneiro Jarel’s spacey and ethereal take on Brooklyn R&B synth-pop artist Amatus and her song “Messin’.”

Amatus grew up with an almost textbook bohemian back story, the daughter of a Muslim sharecropper living in a mosque on the south side of Chicago, later moving to Philadelphia, where as a teenager she would sit in on recording sessions with The Roots, Erykah Badu, and more, finally ending up in Brooklyn and working as a clothing designer before settling in as a musician, producer, and artist. Losing family and friends along the way to tragedy and gun violence lends an almost Dickensian air to her life and her particular brand of dreamy, synthy R&B-infused pop. “Messin’” comes from her debut EP “Broken Compass,” which she released herself earlier this year.

Jneiro Jarel also hails from New York, an experimental producer who has worked with everyone from Goodie Mob to DOOM to Damon Albarn of Blur. His interesting and eclectic style can elevate almost anything he gets his hands on (last year’s JJ DOOM collaboration with rapper/producer DOOM is a prime example). Jarel’s take on “Messin’” turns a driving, drum-heavy synth jam into a trippy journey, an exploration of the nether regions of the mind. He adds a slinkiness to the song that brings out the sultry nature of Amatus’ voice, like a long string of smooth and sexy pagan love chants. It makes me just want to sink into the sheets. Take a listen below.

And here’s the original for comparison.

Both are worthy of your ear buds, as is the “Broken Compass” EP which you can (and should) acquire here. For an album that trades in synth-pop and R&B, there’s a kind of rawness to it. “Coming Home” is as pure pop as you’re bound to get, but it has this haunting edge to it that keeps if from sounding like your generic radio fair. The instruments are live, the vocals clear and moderately unfiltered, and the production is organic and rather gorgeous. “Run Fast” adds some hints of psych and soul into the mix, almost like it’s channeling some obscure Britpop B-side from our collective consciousness. Meanwhile, “Punk” is simple and sexy, a haunting lament, but pure sonic bliss. Take a listen below.

As a debut, “Broken Compass” is an excellent showcase of what Amatus is capable of. The songwriting is strong, as is the production, and the whole affair feels fresh and honest. I approve, though I have to admit, that Jneiro Jarel remix makes me all kinds of happy. Amatus is currently working on a score to a documentary for Al-Jazeera America, but here is hoping that she and Jarel can collaborate again in the future. (Full length album maybe?)


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit

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