Music / Features
Track by Track:
Jaala - Gap Tooth
Words by Seamus Fillmore
Wednesday 8th December, 2021
One month after the release of Gap Tooth, the sprawling and meditative third full-length from enigmatic Melbourne outfit Jaala, band leader Cosi delves into the album’s change of pace and unravels the arcane soundscapes and oblique lyricism behind each of its tracks.
Since the project’s inception in the mid 2010’s, the music of Jaala has consistently evaded easy definition. Words such as jazz, soul, prog and punk (all preferably prefixed with the word ‘art’) can be cautiously tacked onto the angular riffs, syncopated grooves and razor-sharp turns presented on 2015’s Hard Hold and 2018’s Joonya Spirit, only to be thrown off and ground into the dirt upon a listen to either album. Similarly, the band’s latest offering Gap Tooth, a record with a markedly different sonic palette and velocity to its predecessors, defies classification under traditional genre tags - dream-pop, experimental-folk and ambient-rock perhaps touching the edges of the sound, but hardly capturing the full effect.

Gap Tooth is the band’s first record under the current line-up of guitarist, vocalist and namesake Cosima Jaala, drummer Maria Moles and electronic artist Caroline Schofield (aka Fia Fiell) - whose layers of textural synth fill the areas once occupied by guitarist Nick Lam and bassist Jules Pascoe.

Opening track ‘All Here’ invites the listener into the world of this new Jaala, where the frenetic energy and joyous howls found in earlier work have eased drastically into sparse and surreal soundscapes, through which the sounds of each three members ebb and flow effortlessly between one another. Cosi’s singing is as playful and captivating as ever, yet reaches new levels of tenderness and intimacy whilst floating through the dark weightless spaces crafted by the band. The first sentence to reach the listeners ears is the avowal “what is mine is yours”, a fitting introduction to piece of art which appears to have so much of its creator poured into it.

Whilst Cosima croons esoteric musings on love, loss and hope with a dreamlike potency, her distinctive guitar playing, Moles’ masterful drumming and Schofield’s otherworldly synthesizers coalesce to form swelling waves of sound, constantly blurring the lines between restraint and chaos. Lead single ‘Workhorse’ builds an ethereal wall of sound upon a simple repeating synth line before decaying softly back to radio silence, a similar trajectory followed by the powerful ‘I Love You (Dj Set)’ which finds a crescendo of epic proportions before unravelling inwards upon itself. ‘Fuck To The Radio’, ‘Been Bad’ and ‘Which Way’ settle into spacious swaying grooves, meandering confidently through subtle changes and sonic manipulations, each element constantly unique and demanding the listeners attention. The album closes out with the gently expansive 'Catterpil', a reflective ballad centred on Cosi’s guitar and vocal, delicately complimented by haunting vocals from Hannah Macklin and the rare boom of a far-off drum.

To shed some light on this beautiful and complex work, Cosima Jaala has kindly walked TJ through each of the album’s eight tracks.
All Here

The song's working title was 'devotional love song #69' right up until I was forced to think of a more sophisticated name.

Life going good is usually a precursor to it going bad. Even in moments of bliss, we mourn its passing. As humans, we exist in a constant state of temporal grieving, prisoners of decay, crudely assembled by two insane people because they had sex. I was shocked, but not surprised, to find out most of us are conceived around Christmas Day; sex on Christmas day! Shudder. And the days, they just fly by, and we're mostly fine with it. Except for those rare occasions when you see a bullshit-beautiful sunset and feel like a lazy pig for not watching every single sunset from a mountain. A waste of sunsets.

The lyrics “who said it would be easy, to feel this good all the time”, tends to this realisation in the same way you might impulsively buy a packet of seasonal flower seeds and throw them everywhere there's dirt. If it weren't for the bees, such activities would be arguably a complete waste of time, but flowers are nice. Touching little seeds has its charm, too.

This track really plods along, but some moments feel like neo-baroque or… something. I imagine us playing this song on a toadstool to a small gathering of grasshoppers, our translucent wings percussing in sync, amplified naturally by the vibrations of the mushroom's dome.

Maria and Carolyn are virtuosic but in an understated way. Only real fairies could play music like that.

I think I was interested at the time in exploring ploddy-ness because I'd only ever made non-ploddy music everyone kept referring to as jazzy. I think people might have gotten a bit lazy about breaking the rules, especially seeing as they don't exist. Bubbles, being a clear example, Shakespeare just made that word up, and it's probably one of the best words.

I will take this opportunity to apologise to the group of youths who came and saw us play this music for the first time. They must have been very disappointed and wrote complaining that we had lost our 'funk' on our Facebook page. I was devastated for them, but frankly, I was dead inside. So it might be worth mentioning that this album is neither jazzy nor funky, just ploddy, perhaps neo-baroque with a country-slag twist.

F*** to the Radio

This song is about a dream I had where I was camping with some folks, and they wouldn't stop allowing Spotify to pick the next song. I dragged a very large and uncooperative hay bale onto myself and lit it on fire.

End of dream.


This song is the one where Maria goes full time-wizard on some strange double snare set up. Chef's kiss to Maria, everyone knows you're the best Maria. Facts.

I get the occasional message from people confessing they shed a tear whilst listening to this track. I guess they must have had a cathartic experience whilst listening to a piece of music! I thought this was more normal? Seriously though, I love those messages; flood my DMs. FLOOD ME.

There is sadness in this song, but its message is hopeful. ‘Workhorse’, retrospectively, is a love song to the self.

Even though I was still being a dumb-shit during its conception, partying with the rich kids, drinking the Demonade and feeling a bit sorry for myself, I'd made the decision somewhere inside that I was ready! For what, I didn't even know yet.

Love is good at knowing when you're ready for it, you get in line with it, and it lines up with you in return. Eventually, a little bit of love gets in, all your insides get a full once-over, imagine a bubble tea enema, but swap out poo for sins. See, there we have that wonderful word again… bubbles!

I wonder if Shakespeare had a little secret list of word alternatives for love? Because it's a bit overdone now. I would love to be able to speak as loud as a subwoofer at the club, and that would be my word alternative for love. Just booming, endless BASS.

The song also serves as a parting prayer of sorts to a Lady I grew up with. She mothered two wild boys all on her own, and she was mad as a cut snake, and she was beautiful. I was very close with these boys, especially the older one, because we were similar in age. I would stand on his bike pegs, and we would cruise around the long streets, doing a bit of egging, grinding up sparklers, getting bitten by one million things in the mangroves. He'd come by with a plastic bag full of pestilent toads, and we'd put them in the freezer to die.

The family got two pet rats that ended up turning into a rat colony. We let them all go in the park at dusk, little young rats, they ran so fast into the woods, then these owls came down and got 'em all. It was intense for me, but the boys loved every minute. RIP Lee Lee, you're in Zero-Gs now.

Been Bad

Clearly a song about staying up too long, being bad. We played it too fast because we were rushing to record all the beds in a couple of days or something illogical and difficult like that. So we slowed the track down a little in post-production, which adds to the bad acid-trip-energy. But it should be waaaay slower. Like 3bpm. I'm going to make friends with a metronome and use a click track every time I record from now on; that's when shit’s gonna get soo ploddy, so absent of groove, so plod-dy, people might have to think of a new word, I personally can't wait. Maybe just plod will do? I'm serious.

Funny Shapes

It's a song about some of that good old interpersonal drama. However, after its completion, it's clear to me that the song solely exists so that Carolyn could record one million little layers of tiny dancing piano squirts that weave around, hitherto. I hate that I have to strain to listen; every note is like when a dumpling pops under a chopstick, boiling hot but cute.

Which Way

This song is the epitome of 'country-slag' and was written after I had felt some serious feelings, you know the kind. I'd go as far as to say that the essence of all country-slag songs is made up entirely of feelings.

I Love You (Dj Set)

There is this thing that happens with huge bands, I've noticed. They will be billed as themselves, but they are doing a DJ set. However, their previous fame and accolades still mean they are at the top of the bill. For example, 'Tame Impala (DJ set)’.

So in a funny way, ‘I Love You (Dj Set)’ means that 'my love for you has gotten so pro, I'm doing Dj sets, and I don't even Dj, baby!'

It's convoluted, I admit. I never thought people would get that meaning, but also, it doesn't matter too much. Maybe people just think I love (DJ Set.) I do, I BASS (Dj Set.)

Carolyn played the violin in this one, and I feel like it does things to me, what she added. Everything got recorded a quarter-tone out because… WE DON'T KNOW! So she applied pure brain juice and mastery to figure out how to lay that violin. I'm glad she did, ‘cos the violin is very on-brand with our neo-Baroque agenda.

Maria also gets a small window to smash the drums really hard at the end, which is always good because, if you haven't already been lucky enough to hear Maria's solo drum recordings, you should do yourself a favour and trade in this tapas plate for the main meal.


‘Catterpil’ is the name I gave a handmade toy. I'm not sure where it came from, but it has the same face on each end of its tubular body. It kinda looks like a cat with little ears, but it's hard to explain what it is. It's very brightly coloured and filled with straw. It was very useful one day when some friends and I were tripping balls on a hill. The lyrics “it was funny on the hill, but I nearly broke my own heart….” Well, I guess it doesn't matter how funny things can get; hearts can always cop a bit of a breaking.

This was the first time I produced vocals with another vocalist, Hannah Macklin. I remember Hannah and me giggling and singing weird shit into the same microphone. Definitely one of those special days. Safe to say, the song would be pretty lacking without her angelic opera singing, waving in and around my whimperin. Love you, Hannah. And for those curious about what genre hashtag to use for this little ditty, I would say this song is most definitely plod-slæg.

Gap Tooth is out everywhere through Heavy Machinery Records as part of Flash Forward - head to to grab the album on limited edition vinyl.