Available on 12” Vinyl or CD on Innovative Leisure. Nosaj Thing’s debut album Drift was heralded as a landmark record, and quite rightly so, pushing texture and melody into the foreground. After leaving 4 years before his follow up Home Jason Chung seems more eager to refine his sound even further with Fated. A must for fans of Lapalux and Flying Lotus.
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Nosaj Thing is one of those producers that seems to have been on the periphery of my awareness without my ever getting round to listening to any of his work. Not due to lack of interest necessarilly, rather more due to the overwhelming volume of music out there both in my collection and across podcasts, soundcloud, radio etc... There really aren't enough hours in the day to listen to all the music you'd like to. So - having made time to consider LA's Jason Chung - was it worth it?
Having been slow to the party, I've missed his previous albums, 'Drift' and 'Home', so have little to contrast with - however if I say that much of this puts me in mind of Boards Of Canada, Burial and even at times Shabazz Palaces I think that you can say he is producing at the top table of those blurring the lines between hip-hop, electronica, abstract sound pieces and even r'n'b (in the distinctly modern sense of that genre). From opener 'Sci' with its aquatic sounds giving way to a less organic electronic pulse you sense Jason Chung is playing with emotions and the 'senses' that music can stimulate. Similarly to the way Burial uses sometimes haunted or even oppresive layers of sound and echo over sparse beats this is an album for the head.
Nosaj Thing's remix of The XX 'Islands' suggests kindred spirits in using music to stimulate moods, both pulling off that strange trick of achieving a duality between melancholic and euphoric almost at the same time. Track '2K' with its buildings synths is a great example of this, as is 'Let You' - both fairly minimal but using gentle layers of sound to deliver richer textures that draw you in the more you listen.
There is some variation - largely provided by the two guests - most striking is Chance The Rapper's appearance on 'Cold Stares'. Twisting almost R'n'B styles into something very different and the Oh My's adding a feminine sparkle before the track gives way to a sparse arrangement of beats and Chance's somewhat mournful, regretful flow. The track speaks of late night anxieties - even paranoia. Over half a million You Tube views suggest this type of production could get this producer a wider audience. Similarly 'Don't Mind Me' utilises Whoarei to deliver twisted vocal acrobatics over the dark beats of Mr Chung.
This isn't all dark reflection on inner torment - 'Erase' uses an almost nursery rhyme melody offset with ghostly vocal samples to create a lighter mood (though far from frothy). 'UV3' kicks off with a stop start - is the cd sticking - vibe, but just as you think you should be getting annoyed you find your head nodding along to the emerging beat, this is the sort of trick pulled off repeatedly on this album. Chung has experimented, pushed out at typical song structures, yet just at the point where it could become too much, he uses innate musicallity to keep you drawn in. The balance between abstract and immersive, the emotions played with across the album, all combine to make this a rewarding listen that you'll come back to. Its an album in the true sense, it is best listened to whole and looks set to raise Nosaj Thing to the kind of acclaim usually reserved for Flying Lotus and Taylor McFerrin. So was it worth spending time on? Hell yeah.
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