Sometimes described as the Stanley Kubrick of electronic music, having released an album most recently nine years ago, Jega (a.k.a. Manchester's Dylan Nathan) has finally completed his brand new record for the Planet Mu label. In 2003, a draft version was leaked onto the internet, forcing Nathan to return to the drawing board and re-write vast chunks of material. Since then, he relocated first from Manchester to New York, and then to Los Angeles, delaying the project even further. The completed eighteen-track double-album bears little relation to the leaked material of so many years back.
Variance is split into two nine-track journeys, each given its own disc. Volume One is the light, with beautiful synth arpeggios battle with sampled flutes and organic hip-hop- and soul-inspired breaks. On Antiphon, a lone piano weaves around synthetic rhythms like insects chirping, and plastic-sounding strings give a futuristic feel to the song. The mood is one of joy and hope, with many of the melodies featuring rising cadences of notes resolving in the major. Volume Two is the darkness, altogether starker, starting with Tensor, an electro-acoustic sound sculpture, and building up into the dystopian melodies, electro beats, and dubstep bass of Shibuya. On Kyoto and Hydrodynamic, digital processing and harsh jungle breaks heighten the tempo and the mood toward the end of the disc.
Although Nathan's discography is relatively small considering he has been in the game since 1996, it does include releases on Skam and Matador, plus two seminal breakthrough albums on Planet Mu. His first single, Type Xer0, and its follow-up album, Spectrum, inspired Mike Paradinas (a.k.a. u-ZIQ) to start up the fledgling Planet Mu as an independent label. His second album, 2000's Geometry, pushed his ever-evolving sound from hardcore-influenced melodica to futuristic stark digital landscapes.