Release Date: Jan 22, 2013
Record label: Innovative Leisure
Genre(s): Electronic, Downtempo, Left-Field Hip-Hop
Nosaj ThingHome[Innovative Leisure; 2013]By Will Ryan; January 30, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGMusically speaking, Los Angeles was a much different place in 2009. Flying Lotus' 2007's album-length love letter to the city still had enough of a hold on the electronic landscape to define almost anything even tangentially related to the city's ultimate proving ground, the North Broadway club night, Low End Theory. Brainfeeder, Anticon, and Alpha Pup amongst others released a generation of LPs between '08 and '10 from artists like Lorn, Teebs, and Baths that came to define a whole movement of left-field hip-hop with influences spanning the Atlantic loosely (and lamely) termed glitch hop.
27-year-old Los Angeles producer and DJ Jason Chung aka Nosaj Thing is a man who operates at the distinctly more oblique and avant-garde of hip-hop and electronic production. There is a temporal beauty to Chung’s sonic explorations of the outer reaches of electronic music encompassing ambient sound collages, traditional hip-hop break beats and the darker, deeper core of dubstep. The music Chung makes as Nosaj Thing can very loosely be described as dance music but it is dance music coloured with a real emotional resonance more suited to bedroom introspection and early morning comedown than euphoric dance floor excess.
As bass music has emerged from the underground in the States, it has, predictably, become warmer, brighter and more accessible. Sure, a key element of Skrillex's appeal is the enormous release that comes with the drop, but it's equally important to have pleasant sounds as contrast. The move toward warmth isn't limited to the most obvious of brostep producers.
On 2009’s Drift, newcomer Nosaj Thing sounded like a down-tempo electronic prodigy. The record had frequent flashes of brilliance but, at least for me, often felt thin and underdeveloped. In the years since, he’s been good for the occasional single and guest spot, including the excellent Kendrick Lamar collaboration Cloud 10. On Home, he sounds more comfortable, patient and creative.
After releasing Drift, his first album, Jason Chung diversified. He remixed the xx's "Islands," Charlotte Gainsbourg's "Heaven Can Wait," and a piece of Phillip Glass' Einstein on the Beach, and he also produced Kendrick Lamar's "Cloud 10." Given that activity, the mellowness and restraint of his second album is surprising. A pair of collaborations with vocalists actually heightens its pained, private sound; they both convey the feeling of regretfully watching a relationship slip away.
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.
I’ll admit to a tendency to think of music in overly pragmatic terms. Where can I use this? What situation in my life would be best served by hearing this playing from a home stereo, headphones or live in a club? When would I most enjoy this? Whenever you go down that road, however, you’re leaving out a very large catalog of music, the sole purpose of which is to just be enjoyed. Musicians like Jason Chung don’t seem to have a target demographic or any particular verbs in mind when they engage in their craft.
Like post-punk, post-dubstep (“poststep” for short) is a categorical fence for artists loosely tied by temporal and aesthetic similarities, an arena of music shaped almost solely by a singular tendency to bend, twist, and abandon the subgenre from which it takes its name. Though it’s difficult to pinpoint which musical box Nosaj Thing’s 2009 debut, Drift, properly belongs to, the album almost immediately garnered a canonical status among both the dubstep and IDM elite. Over the three years since Drift‘s release, Nosaj Thing (a.k.a.
Growing up drawn in to hip-hop, Nosaj Thing’s Jason Chung highlighted these kinds of sensibilities on his debut album, Drift. Obtuse and booming, Chung’s basses enhanced the music’s already downcast, smooth tones. On “Fog” the beats would be jagged and upfront and later, on “Us,” Chung employed more directly-driven patterns – with the help of immense atmosphere.
In contrast to its languorous title, Nosaj Thing’s debut LP Drift hit the glitch-hop world like a bolt from the blue in 2009. The album shifted wordlessly between moods and colour palettes, its intricate electronic arrangements lent force and clarity by the LA-based producer’s supreme skill and immaculate judgement. Its liquid beats were frequently reminiscent of fellow Los Angelite Flying Lotus, but Drift also made it clear that Nosaj Thing (real name: Jason Chung) was so much more than a tech-savvy piggy-backer.
A frequently beautiful second LP from the LA producer. Mike Diver 2013 “This record is very personal to me… I was just writing [it] for myself… It was therapeutic.” So says Los Angeles producer, DJ and remixer Jason Chung of his second LP as Nosaj Thing. And Home is certainly a quieter, more introspective set than its maker’s 2009 debut, Drift.
Jason Chung, the L.A.-based producer behind Nosaj Thing, has an exceptional ear for space. The masterful level of production and the vast collection of influences on his 2009 album Drift put him in the company of other famed instrumental producer/musicians such as Flying Lotus and Clams Casino. As was the case on Drift, Chung’s work as Nosaj Thing has been all about measuring and manipulating an audible distance between lucidity and obscurity.