Release Date: May 4, 2015
Record label: Innovative Leisure
Genre(s): Electronic, Downtempo, Club/Dance, Left-Field Hip-Hop
Head here to submit your own review of this album. The ethereal nature of Justin Chung's (Nosaj Thing) third album, Fated, will leave you in a state of tranquility. Speaking to Thump last year, Chung mentioned the comfort it brought him: "I feel much more comfortable with this third album now. I'm exploring some totally new sounds." Fated is unpolished, yet each layer comes together almost perfectly.
Science fiction is not cool. We can quibble about the particulars—are robots cool? sure, robots are cool—but in practice, there is no arguing that sci-fi is not cool. Even the Sci-Fi Channel hedged its bet and changed its name to Syfy. I am talking about dimly lit basements and damp, beige convention centers: these are not cool spaces.
Jason Chung might be the L.A. beat scene's premier journeyman. Alongside the defining traits of his more visible peers (Daedelus's feracity, the Internet's nihilism, Baths's intimate morbidity, Flying Lotus's star-student prodigiousness), it's the flexibility of Chung's Nosaj Thing project that stands out. The oblong, atmospheric architecture of glitch-hop and cloud-rap give Chung a sound that soaks into the lyrical density of Busdriver, one of everal local rappers he's collaborated with, as easily as it stretches and folds around remixes for artists as diverse as Boris, HEALTH, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Philip Glass.
Knowing Jason Chung's previous output, and aware of his predilection for soundtracking chemically compromised mind states, it'd be justifiable to glance at the title of the beat producer's third album and misread it as Faded. Released two years after his previous album, Fated is indeed in line with the remainder of the Nosaj Thing discography, though it's a little blearier and a little more downcast, with an increase in torpid tempos. "Let You" even begins with funereal keyboard tones that resemble those of Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks work, but the track slightly quickens and develops into a snarl of low-profile bass tones, an array of percussive accents, and chopped-up vocal samples.
Out of everything Nosaj Thing could be hoping to do with his own brand of glitch-hop, one possibility has always seemed likeliest to me- perhaps it is music intent on generating rich imagery. While Jason Chung’s debut Drift possessed the aesthetic of a dilapidated carnival, neon lights blinking in and out of existence under the muted glow of moonlight, Home took the opposite direction by demanding a comfortable experience of the listener. One record took us down a dark alleyway, insisting we placed our trust in it; the other carried us away from harm and into warm swathes of light.
On Jason Chung's third album as Nosaj Thing, the Los Angeles producer seems intent on escaping the baggage of his legacy. His earlier recordings spawned legions of imitators, and Chung, like many other key figures of the L.A. beat scene, reacted by eschewing the uplifting, crowd-pleasing sounds that garnered him prime-time slots at major festivals. Thankfully, his current understated, minimalist approach doesn't abandon the qualities that made his earlier work so mesmerizing.