Music

Nosaj Thing: Home

There’s no dance-floor friendly banger or loud snapping snares. It's all easy entrances and exits: guests stopping over unexpectedly to relate a sad story and then exiting quietly through the back while you're pouring the tea.


Nosaj Thing

Home

Label: Innovative Leisure
US Release Date: 2013-01-22
UK Release Date: 2013-01-21
Amazon
iTunes

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. It is not strictly dance music. It is not love making music or driving music--though it could just as easily be all of these things.

Home is emotionally malleable but as the name would suggest, it never strays too far from its origin. Nosaj Thing is frequently referred to in hip hop terms but having worked with artists like Kid Cudi; Busdriver; Chance the Rapper; Flying Lotus; and Radiohead, you immediately begin to see that we’re already far outside the neighborhood of anything which could be considered typical. These are all musicians who’ve managed to thrive on the fringes of what they do. What Nosaj Thing is doing here is making powerful and moving electronic music.

There’s a warmth to this record that permeates every note of sub-bass. There’s no dance-floor friendly banger or loud snapping snares. It's all easy entrances and exits: guests stopping over unexpectedly to relate a sad story and then exiting quietly through the back while you're pouring the tea. This record brings to mind Aphex Twin’s Richard D. James Album far more than anything from the streets of LA. To his credit Nosaj Thing doesn’t have to dig deep into the esoteric end of glitch or fall back into the safe zone of chilled out pop music. Indeed the most pop-like single on the record is “Eclipse”, featuring the immediately recognizable multi-layered vocals of Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino. I can’t image a better compliment to the sound of an album which opens on an abstract rhythm that seems to have been born as hip hop and had its components replaced with xylophone, reversing sweeps and aesthetics which would mix seamlessly with anything by Iceland’s Mum.

Home's gentle beginning progresses consistently into a parade of autonomic-inspired lullabies. “Safe” and “Distance” employ a quick-paced pitter-patter of barely-there percussion that accompanies simple melodies of notes which evoke elements of hip hop long after the thugs grew up and had families. “Tell” is the furthest from the path; on this one the synths and horns seem to get a little jarring but even at that, it isn’t long before Nosaj Thing quickly reigns it in and brings the mix back to a simple breakdown.

“Prelude”, completely void of any percussion at all, seems to simply set the stage for the latter half of the record, with a melancholy piano tune passed through some destructive filters which give it an otherworldly sound. “Try” picks up on this transition perfectly and an already dark album takes a turn for the slightly darker despite an attempt at uplifting vocals from Toro Y Moi. They emerge here as little more than contrast, serving to highlight the so-soft-it’s-fluid construction of the track. “Phase III” gets us quickly back on track for the round trip journey and the record ends on what might be the only successfully uplifting track on the record, “Light #3”. This final track dives right into a Drum n Bass step while angelic vocal synths carry it along.

It all comprises a somewhat short but very enjoyable collection of electronic music. These songs work together as a complete experience; with the exception of the single-bait “Eclipse”, there’s nothing here that stands out over the rest. That may sound like a negative criticism, but in this case it’s actually a testament to a well-produced piece of mellow electronica. It feels like we’re a long way from Massive Attack’s Protection or Thievery Corporation’s The Mirror Conspiracy but it’s always nice to hear something which reminds you of home.

6

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7
Music

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image