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Audio CD, September 14, 2010
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European repressing. L.A. musical modulator pits gritty electronics against sultry hip-hop undertones. Artist-to-Watch in XLR8R, remixed Daedelus & Flying Lotus, & won Project Blowed beat battle, supported by Pete Tong & Mary Anne Hobbs.
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spacey...street beats...symphonic...i'm just taken back to my beautiful ex-girlfriend...the death-dealer...celina....she is a hot mess....this album is crazy. what's the expression..."tango uniform"...
this album is going to ruin me....like she did....i just needed more time to propose....damn it....
don't ask...this album is dark...haunting...however optimistic at times...
i can barely listen to jeff buckley at this point....
i see myself listening to this at 3 am in a snow storm....in finland....
but...i live in maine...and i don't need to go to finland....for snow....
troentmoeller like? - if you injected troentmoeller with anabol...or wisterol...or some industrial grade horse steroids.
It opens with `Quest,' an avant-garde track teeming with dreamy landscapes and resonant claps backed by the sound of multiple toy pianos. Add to that some elements of glitch and an eerie choir midway through the song and you've got the overall feel of this phenomenal opener. A starter that stays in the back of your mind throughout the entire album and works perfectly with the rest of the tracks because of its odd attractiveness and ability to form images just with sounds. This is part of Chung's genius: he can lure you into his world of soundscapes just with the opening track and yet, you never feel imprisoned. As `Quest' drifts off to the back of your mind, `Fog' comes off as the first "real" track wrought with a steady beat that picks up midway through the intro and then transforms into an infectious beat. Arguably one of his best tracks, Chung manages to combine pensive synths with the chopped up sample of someone breathing out. `Coat of Arms' is the closest thing to a FlyLo track, imagine a beat that opens with the sound of something that can only be described as a massively reverbed "ah," teamed with the subtle groan of a blue whale. Layered claps, a thumping kick, and a croaky lead synth? Check, it's all there. He even throws in a choir overflowing with echo. The thing that makes this track sound like a FlyLo production is the way the beat manages to cut out every single time the kick drum reverberates, giving this track a sort of hypnotic feel.
`IOIO,' a personal favorite of Chung's, features sputtery drums and a steady wave of resounding synths coupled with some spliced mono synths. `IOIO' plays out as a track that doesn't draw too much attention to itself though it's one of the more complex ones on the album, in addition to `1685/Bach,' another technically proficient track that seems to wander all over the place with its beat. Though many of the tracks are riddled with symptoms of ADD, this tracks feels like the most nomadic of the bunch. With each instrument never fully reaching its apex, this one makes you think you want to hear more without realizing that you are in fact hearing all that there is to hear... `Caves' naturally has that "sounds like it was recorded in an underground cave" feel and showcases waspy drones and the ever-present steady drum pattern layered with claps.
`Light#1 & #2' are two separate tracks I feel should be combined not only because of the names but because of their sound. The first one opens with a sampled bell that is brilliantly chopped up to accompany the entire song and then quickly dissipates into a boomy track fashioned with out-of-tune video game sounds. Awesome and incredibly hard to describe, this one is another album staple, but not without `Light#2.' The intro sounding like a clash between something from the late-seventies to mid-eighties, it gradually transforms into a real mindbender, the first track to spotlight a shaker! `2222,' is the dreamiest track of the entire record. Drones, ambient-whistling, and staggering sub-harmonic frequencies galore, no drumming to be found on this track.
`Us,' `Voices,' and `Lords,' are three tracks I think work together to create a sort of trilogy of sounds. Overly simplistic, `Us,' enthralls us with cricket-sounding drums and an interestingly repetitive sound which seems to find its continuation in `Voices' which interestingly enough begins with muffled drums and then persists with the addition of rear percussion but ends on the same note it started, quiet and muffled. The closing track, `Lords' reintroduces the concept of a sampled choir and this time actually takes center stage. Reminiscent of apocalyptic mantras and epic orchestral pieces, this one's larger-than-life; it's like you're waking up from a dream. This essentially, is the perfect closer to an amazing album. What with the creepy double-layering of extremely spliced samples played to emulate human voices; no human choir could ever sound like the one featured in `Lords.'
The album opens with the song "Quest" consisting of a simple melody with a distinctly archaic feeling to it blanketed in a warm crackly texture. The deep beats resonate creating the feeling of a wide open hall punctuated by sharp claps and sparkling bells which are smoothed over by a chorus of voices singing an eerie chord progression. The song fades out into a shadow of itself before the next song comes to life sounding wonderfully crisp and clean but with a melody reminiscent of a cheesy 80s horror film. "Fog" the second song on the album utilizes a chopped up voice sound very effectively in creating the creepy feel that pervades throughout.
The third song "Coat of Arms" is slightly more upbeat with more danceable melodies and beats but with a voice sample equally as haunting and spacey as the previous. The song is accented by a melodic electric buzzing in the background and gorgeous modulations of a crunchy low tone. The synth melodies that pop out every once in awhile give the song surprises at every turn.
"IOIO" the 4th song in line is the most driven and danceable of all. Devoid of chilling samples or eerie noises the song comes off smooth silky. Having had the pleasure of seeing Nosaj Thing live last year, I can say that he definitely lingered on the more fun pieces in his repertoire longer than the more artful and down tempo pieces. Nosaj opened with an oddly textured melody reminiscent of a theme park ride and went through several of his weirder pieces before coming to "IOIO" at which point the crowd got noticeably more interested and began to move. The warming melodies resonate outward with a complex and omnipresent beat at the wheel.
At this point in the album, things start to pick it up a bit. The next song "1685/Bach" utilizes a sample of a clanking chain and immensely deep crackling melodies and chords to build a beat that subsides and reemerges rapidly holding your attention hostage. Toward the end of the song the crackling and noises disappear leading to the feeling of the song being dipped underwater until it is extinguished and we reemerge in the next song "Caves." The deep beat and echoing melodies of "Caves" phase in and out giving a distinct cavern-like sensation to the song. The song swells and deflates in persistent patterns until the melodies subside one last time into sonic darkness.
The album then bursts into a shining clearing with the songs "Light #1" and "Light #2." Though their names may suggest other wise these songs are far form twins. "Light #1" opens with a drawn out and punctured bell noise which holds down the background of the song while airy synth melodies play in the forefront. A busy and creative beat keeps the song moving until as it if ran off a cliff it disappears completely and abruptly with one last echoing tone. "Light #2" then opens with a retro sounding synth melody with an unusual rhythm. The song springs to life with a pointed beat bringing modulations and additional melodies into the mix. Evolving until it seems to hit a peak , the song begins to dip into a gradual decline until with one last puff of bass it drifts off into a quiet volley of tones.
The next piece is one of my favorites, named "2222" the song begins with a fuzzy chord and beat that gives birth to a melody line that sounds quite like a Theremin. The ever so ambient song is evidence of Nosaj Thing's history in interesting textures and lavish melodic progressions. At just under 2 minutes the song is only a slice of sonic bliss seeming to end almost as soon as it begins.
The album proceeds with the cool, rainy "Us." The song is relaxing and soft with pleasant chords and melodies dancing in front of a deeply rooted beat and shimmering tonal modulations. The texture of the song rises and falls giving a windy feel to parts of it. This song gives a nod to the ambient before charging boldly again into the weird with the song "Voices." The song begins with another dusty and crackling melody. The bass line that comes in carries a mysteriously foreboding feel to it. The menacing beat that drops behind the veil of the melodies sounds like tribal drums as the song carries you away. Ending quite abruptly, the song drops off into the glorious choral sample of "Lords." The final song on the album and perhaps the most intricately put together, "Lords" is a dissonant ballad with modulated tones flying every which way. The rock solid and resonating bass line carries all of the busy tones on its broad shoulders, the din of synthetic tones above creating a mesh of tones so thick you may need a machete to get through. As the song progresses it matures into a more stable version of itself becoming more regular and danceable until it altogether fades out into beautiful silence.
Though not a conventional DJ, Nosaj Thing has stuck to the roots of electronic music while adding his own feel and transcends the boundaries of contemporary electronic music. With compositions of incredible complexity and depth he has crafted a niche all of his own. The sampling techniques and synthesized melodies hearken to the pioneers of electronic music while the modulations and unconventional rhythms defy even the most modern of styles. The live show is even better than the studio album so if you enjoy the music definitely try to see Nosaj Thing the next time he is near your town.