Teen Daze - The Inner Mansions
Mature is always a word that comes with connotations that to me, seem counter intuitive to music in general. Nobody want's to listen to sensible or frugal music. But I suppose there is a time and a place for music that can be reflective and, if not sensible, then thoughtful. Jamison promised a "spiritual and music journey" for his second album of 2012. An album heavily influenced by Saint Terisa of Avila's El Castillo Interior (The Inner Castle or The Mansions).
The first album from Teen Daze, his producing alter-ego, this year was All Of Us Together. A clean synth-laden joy for the thinking clubber's pre drinks that built on the countless demos and tracks that had already been scattered around the blogosphere over the past couple years.
Now back so soon with The Inner Mansions, maybe Jamison decided that his fans needed an album to listen to for when they got back from their night out at four in the morning and just wanted to have a little calm in their life for a short while. The new album does away with the clean-cut arpeggiated synths and 4/4 drum machine loops for an all together more considered approach.
'New life' (rather aptly) kicks off the sophomore album and immediately plunges you into Jamison's new darker world. A sample from El Castillo Interior's second chapter echoes out, "how can you refrain from trying to remove the darkness from the crystal of your souls?," heavy stuff. But is this just a pretentious play for those in the know or a genuine change in the Teen Daze psyche. Only one man really knows, but I suspect it's a little of both.
Right time to put context behind and get back to the music. Unlike the first album, where they were severely lacking, Jamison brings his own vocals back into the mix. Whilst he does sound somewhat like a passive-aggressive teenager agreeing to wash the dishes, it works. With the sluggish, breathy synths and off and on beat again drum machine prevalent through 'New Life' and 'Divided Loyalties' it's more awkward teenager than mature spiritualist. Although 'Divided Loyalties' adds the drunken confidence that teenagers do so strive off of.
Now there are two tracks that could pass for a Sigur Rós English speaking side-project in 'Garden 1' and especially 'Garden 2'. They do both jar slightly, coming after comparatively pacey tracks. But they're lovely nevertheless. I'm trying to avoid the use of the terms 'soundscapes' or 'lush', but the all natural, dappled sunlight through leaves feelings that these two tracks possess are so evocative and in your face that it's a struggle not to. It sounds like Jamison has even sampled the wind rushing through a forest's canopy in 'Garden 1', either that or he's a wizard of memories.
What doesn't quite compute however is 'Union' featuring Frankie Rose of Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls fame. The production drowns Rose pretty much completely out and the Casio preset guitar/drum combo is completely at odds with its neighbours. If you're planning on adding the album to your meditation playlist, maybe leave this one alone.
All in all if you want an album that you can expect to hear being played out in the back rooms of your trendy Bristol and London clubs. Where the Dj's talk about post-tumblr-chillwave and Clams Casino's veritable mastery of trillwave whilst sipping their rum and coke's, this is the one. Screw you… but this is the one. Although if like me you just want a well-written, mostly well-produced mellow mood album that will make your ears glad to be a slave to your impeccable music taste, this is also the one.
Do I get extra points for not writing 'achingly beautiful'?
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Glacier by Teen Daze is a frustrating listen. In 2012, producer Jamison released two full length records under his Teen Daze moniker, the spaced-out All Of Us Together, and the bedroom pop inspired The Inner Mansions. There was certainly a little progression between the two, the latter finding Jamieson a little more reluctant and withholding with his rich sound, marking a mature turn for the young artist. [read more]