Jaggery is an experimental art-rock collective who work the dark edge of a genre-defying musical style (darkwave jazz?). Fronted by Boston-based singer/songstress Mali Sastri ~ whose training in the expressive arts discipline of Voice Movement Therapy is evident in her global-sized voice ~ the band suggests a classical, organic, avant-jazz-oriented Cocteau Twins or a “white witch” counter to the haunting Diamanda Galas. Mali’s voice can be a leaf floating in the breeze, and then become an Earth-shaking, Everest-sized volcano. This bridging of the delicate and explosive is a signature of the Jaggery repertoire ~ from haunting lullabies to furious, mixed-meter rants; tightly-woven compositions in odd time signatures to catharsis-inducing, barn-burning mini-epics (oft-times within the same song). Mali is flanked by a rotating lineup of musicians, creating an “exotic musical mobile” and a kind of avant-acoustic electronica around her voice-and-piano-based songs. The ensemble includes Daniel Schubmehl’s cajón-based drumming style, combining African groove and breakbeat, Tony Leva’s funky upright bass, and Petaluma Vale’s Celtic harp and backing vocals. The sound is captivating, engrossing , emotional, both enchanting and disturbing, dark and triumphant. Jaggery (the word comes from the dark brown, Indian sugar) has toured across the northeast, and has released two recordings: the 2004 in lethe ep, and the 2006 full-length polyhymnia.
"One of the most beautiful voices in modern music."
Vice President of Alternative Programming,
"...sister and brother...Mali and Raky Sastri are definitely on the way to creating something amazing here, if the three songs on this demo [the throes-nyc] are any indication. Mali's voice goes from Enya-esque choirgirl heights to a low, throaty, angry growl seemingly without effort, while the combination of her borderline classical piano lines and Raky's oddly arrhythmic percussion equal some wonderfully disturbing songs. My only complaint is that the three songs on here leave me wanting to hear more, and pressing the "repeat" button again and again just doesn't cut it."
~ Holly Day, Big Takeover Magazine
"These people are arty and various and wild. The singer can do floating, ethereal loveliness as well as rich, earthy growls. She also plays wonderful piano parts which are the main melody instrument; there's a guitarist, but he only plays on some songs and when he does he's providing spacy, highly processed fillips around the main thrust of the songs. The bassist plays bowed bass, bowed acoustic guitar, and that sharp-timbred metal xylophone thing that marching bands have. The drummer is a jazzy wild man, playing rhythms so far from straight up that I occasionally wonder if they're just wrong, but they seem to make a kind of twisted sense and the rest of the band is right there with him."
~ Live Review, apocalypse.org
"...arty and elliptical...Mali Sastri's voice is a freakish and wonderful thing. When she ascends into her delicate, stratospheric soprano and layers on the reverb, I look around to see the elves coming out of the forest. Then again, on another song she declaims in such a severe deadpan that she evokes Grace Jones. And their first song starts out in 11! What's not to love?"
~ Live Review, apocalypse.org
Jaggery "In Lethe'" (EP) New York, USA 2004:
Mali's voice has the depth, charm, and finesse of a mermaid in distress. Her siren call enthralls listeners embracing the visceral and yet subdued caterwaul cooing that is her sublime vocal presence. Lethe is as likely a birthing ground for the sound as any. Entranced and certain of having one's cortexes erased of any ill-begotten thoughts and meanderings, this music relaxes our tight grip on reality, transporting readily. Supplanted in Hades for the duration, unmitigated immersion begets greedy quaffs of this divine musical elixir.
Peals of escape traipse along your face as the world fades from view, created anew from an intimately interior space. Likewise nightmarish and soporific, simultaneously hopeful and melancholic, purportedly diametric factions of the soul are mesmerized in tandem via polarized dynamics. Jaggery is expertly lethal in anthropomorphizing the riddled incubus rattle within this mortal coil. Wholeness binds and blinds us. The careening verse, 'I can never fill up this hole,' beaming powerfully from inside of the cavernous recesses in "7 Stone" could not be more of a truism.
Summarily shaking off the soot of humanity's foibles and subtly corralling the essence of phoenix ascent from the depths of a dark pupal id, this windswept prancing blurs fathomless. Not a single moment is spared their keen idiosyncrasy. Somersaulting lugubriously, structures tumultuously sprawl into an effortless sub-routine of rollicking acrobatics. Tension mounts opportunely to decidedly raucous peaks as melodic lines undulate, glowing and glistening underneath, bearing the weighty anticipation of soaring narcoleptic liberation. Do not sleep, be reborn.
~ Cesar Montesano