Sometimes little is said about how the emotion of electronic music can be portrayed properly. With the landscape nowadays littered with popular, house-hungry beats from the likes of Skrillex, Disclosure and other four-to-the-floor torchbearers, those with a more introspective view seem to have become less and less in evidence.
The Burials of this world hide behind their emotive sonic landscapes but find kinship in unlikely places. Jason Chung, under the alias of Nosaj Thing, found similar fandom with his own brand of downtempo, near hip-hop style instrumentals with debut album Drift. It stands up to this day as a magnificent example of a dying artform in a continuously more superficial electronic world. And with Home, that stirred heart still beats, albeit with an occasionally unwelcome arrythmia.
The template hasn’t changed much, and to some extent this is no bad thing. ‘Distance’ could easily find a home alongside the stronger turns on Drift, with its Boards of Canada-baiting high hooks and mutating bass lines dancing over its parental broken beat. ‘Snap’, similarly, swaggers through the dark spaces it creates itself, bouncing around a tight compound of ever building synths, whilst ‘Safe’ echoes Apparat’s Berliner techno in a downtrodden fashion that it’s only right to feel some kind of loving sympathy for.
Such moments stand out to the Nosaj-trained ear already, but it’s in the newer sounds where Chung’s musical contestations now lie. His music may be well accustomed to the basements and clubs of the beard-stroking masses, but none of his music has ever truly crossed over to a more traditional dance set, vocals and all - until now. Home’s lead single, ‘Eclipse/Blue’ – a track suitably accompanied by a perfectly suiting, stargazing visual – sees his first turn with vocals as Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino breathes an ethereal and joyous life into Chung’s heart-wrenching musical mosaic. Unfortunately, Makino's confidence doesn’t seem to apply to Chaz Bundick aka Toro Y Moi’s inclusion on ‘Try’ – a track that stands out in its unfortunate limpness, his vocal proving to be a kind of unwelcome hitchhiker to the ride.
It’s in these experimentations where Home does tend to fall short of the heights of Drift. ‘Glue’ plods where others thrive, upping the tempo to little effect in accompaniment of a pre-IDM synth wobble – a mesh of stylings that, on paper, could blend perfectly, but in this reality fall flat. ‘Phase III’ attempts a similar upbest approach, but melodies remain unperturbed and flat around the percussions new skittishness. These may be minor slights, but they, unfortunately, stand out against Home’s wider backdrop of deft, empathetic touches.
7William Grant's Score