“You can’t illegalise love.”
Jam Rostron’s rejection of gender assignment has always been most notable in her choice of warped, pitch-shifted vocals. When she strips her singing voice of any identifiable sex, it merely becomes another programmed instrument or vehicle to drive her lyrics centre stage. I say “merely’ but in fact, it’s not only the words that become more exposed in the androgynous spotlight…In eliminating the natural characteristics from Jam’s voice, the emotion of the bare notes which are left behind seem to intensify and become more penetrating, especially on your first encounter (an encounter which, if you haven’t already heard of electronica duo The Knife, would sound irrefutably alien.)
Since collaborating with the Dreijer siblings on 2010’s “Darwin electro-opera”, ‘Tomorrow, In A Year‘, Jam aka. Planningtorock has adopted a similarly non-traditional approach to music; in which melodic structures are challenged and reconstructed like pop music putty. On ‘All Love’s Legal‘, her third and most playfully poignant album, we’re treated to more of her fun yet anarchic brand of topsy-turvy dance music.
From start to finish, the album takes you on a rallying journey through Planningtorock‘s neon-marbled Amazon. She rides the melancholy (‘Steps‘, ‘Answer Land‘) and fights the rapids (‘Misogyny Drop Dead‘, ‘Human Drama‘) for not just the dance floor, but also the greater equality of queer-humankind.
Her gender-bending vocals bleach a beautiful trail of emotion through its vibrant rivers of synths and trickling technicolor strings, with each track baring another cultural slogan brandished between her political warrior-teeth…”take your love to where it needs you, fall in love with whoever you want to.”
There’s no argument over which side of pop/dance music ‘All Love’s Legal’ falls on, it’s clearly the leftfield. Even though it does possess a unique pop sensibility, it was never destined to flower with memorable hooks and melodies on every track. That said, it still remains fascinating enough in its wonky and fluidic soundscapes, with Jam, much like with her name (she was formerly ‘Janine’), proving that she’s got plenty to say with her tongue firmly stuck in cheek. She’s not going to follow convention; she’s got her own musical mission statement…Male or female, queer or not, it doesn’t matter; this is a Planningtorock album that needs to be paid attention to and most of all enjoyed by you, me and everyone in between…
“Let’s talk about gender baby!”