Release Date: Feb 10, 2017
Record label: FLORA
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Ambient Pop
Water and all the depth and mystery it suggests has been a recurring image in Jamison Isaak's music, from early tracks like "Shine On, You Crazy White Cap" and "Waves", to a clutch of songs on Morning World, his 2015 album recorded with John Vanderslice at his famed analog studio, Tiny Telephone. The concern on Themes for Dying Earth isn't the riddles of Earth so much as its reality. Isaak wanted the record to be "more of a reflection of what's actually outside the window"; his particular window looking out on the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, a town inland east of Vancouver, BC.
Balancing the austerity of ambient and the warmth, catchiness and smoothness of dream pop has long been the M.O. of Teen Daze, aka Jamison Isaak; hailing from BC's Fraser Valley, his work has always felt like it operates on romanticized notions of the natural world. He embraces that idealism one more on Themes for Dying Earth, mining the beauty of the natural world for inspiration, considering it as both a retreat from the anxiety of modern life and a bounty to be protected. The lush and varied textures on this album demonstrate that inspiration; the first sounds we hear are reversed vocal samples that build to a scurrying synth riff backed by a rainy field recording, before the pop of "Cycle" really kicks in.
Tranquility, hope, and recovery "Pastoral ambience" is how many have referred to Teen Daze's sound; a fusion of ethereal pop vocals with layered synths, sampled sounds, and heavily filtered acoustics. If Jamison Isaak and his surrounding project earned this reputation on 2013's Glacier, then the latest offering is sure to cement their niche as one of the most gorgeous-sounding ambient indie-pop acts around. With tightly crafted hooks and subtle remnants of chillwave and shoegaze flowing effortlessly, Themes for Dying Earth is an album you should probably listen to while laying down in the grass; staring up at the sky with a good set of headphones to reveal every small intricacy that this stunning record has to offer.
Jamison Isaak (Teen Daze) is anxious in his latest release, Themes For Dying Earth. He's worried about his own life as much as he's distressed by the deterioration of our planet. You can hear it on "Lost" when he admits to "feeling helpless, feeing lost" or in the inclusion of "First Rain," with Bon Iver's Sean Carey singing of nature's disappearance.
Stardew Valley is a fictitious rural region in a 2016 video game of the same name. Described as an " open-ended country-life RPG," it is essentially a game about unplugging from the modern world and embracing the beauty of simple living. You, the customized character, quit your soul-sucking office job, move to an inherited farm, live off the land, and become a part of the small community in Pelican Town.
"They shouldn't have to fade away.” If the lyrics from "Lost" tell a story, it is that Teen Daze want nothing more than to hold on to a dream. The British Columbia-based artist lives for the idea that memories should not leave the mind with time. Through a Daughter-like melody of breezy electronics, Jamison Isaak and Nadia Hulett rise up and down, like they were riding the tide.
Remember when chillwave was a thing? Among the many names that emerged from that scene, Teen Daze proved to be able to evolve gracefully from a minimalistic bedroom project on 2010's debut Four More Years, to the new fully-developed and self-produced Themes For Dying Earth; a soothing introspection through the struggles of modern life. With the urge to find a safe space to battle his growing anxiety and depression, Jamison Isaak retreated to the valleys of British Columbia in Canada. While there, he picked up from his daily life struggles and converted them into sound, which allowed him to channel his darkness into light and eerie soundscapes.
Following 2015's Morning World, a just OK effort that found Teen Daze traveling to John Vanderslice's San Francisco studio and writing guitar-centric indie pop, the Vancouver-based musician known as Jamison returns to his familiar ambient dream pop territory with the much better Themes for Dying Earth. Morning World was a noble attempt to learn the ins and outs of recording in an all-analog studio as opposed to digitally recording everything at home, but it ended up sounding like an experiment. Themes for Dying Earth sounds much more natural; here, Jamison returns to his strengths, but the discipline of his previous experience hasn't worn off on him.