Nosaj Thing - Home
When a genre is subjected to a shadowy niche, it is easy to objectify it in more general terms. Whilst electronic music has hardly existed as a minority genre, it now exists in a much more mainstream space. Boiler Room mixes are now acceptable pub conversation. Over-ear headphones are trendy. You can love dance music and not be instantly considered a pill-popping lunatic. Perhaps inevitably, this exposure leads to a level of dilution towards generic tendencies, and the wave of popularity gifts those with a dance-ready pop sensibility than those who portray their emotional depth with a quiet whisper.
LA producer Jason Chung, aka Nosaj Thing, belongs to another camp. Since first encountering the possibilities of production at 12, he has risen, via 2009 album Drift, to an established purveyor of atmospheric introversion. His subtle sonic textures are driven less by the beat of warehouse intent, and more the intimacy of the human heartbeat.
And so, perhaps fittingly, this record might give its audience a glimpse into the Home of Chung. And at points, the album does feel like it establishes a more concrete point of outside connection than the spacious instrumentals of Drift. Chung's made some friends – and whilst his beat collaborations with vartists such as Kendrick Lamar restrict him to the back room, there's two here that he's willing to show off. If the input of Toro Y Moi on 'Try' feels slightly anti-climactic, Kazu Makino's presence on lead single 'Eclipse/Blue' is instantly felt, as her haunting vocals glisten above, and lift Chung's chilling soundscapes to the status of what might even be a pop song. In interview, Chung refers to himself as more like a conductor, and the symphony of Home peaks with the dynamic centrepoint of 'Tell' and 'Snap', with their skidding synths shooting around the reflective constraints of their dense surroundings.
Despite these moments of warmth, or emotional accessibility, much of Home follows a very similar template to Drift. Chung's music is about encoding these connection, from the backwards Jason that makes up his name, to the impenetrable, incredibly complex atmospheres that his music create. An unofficial video pairs Nosaj Thing with footage of a freedive, a breathless jump into one of the deepest blue holes in the ocean. The result feels like the song was composed purely to describe the experience – overwhelming, engulfing, and incredibly cathartic. This is where the effortless beauty of Nosaj Thing's music lies, in the moment when depthlessness becomes penetrable, and the dark pools of his sonic depth can be plunged, to an extent, through the triple-distilled atmospheres his records create.
In the context of 2013, however, it might feel too deft. It lacks the glitch of Flying Lotus, and the intensity of Burial, and despite the impressive, glacial soundscapes he produces, can ultimately leave the listener cold. The beats that often thrilled on Drift here feel slightly muted, and the moments of major key euphoria more like delicate sketches. To truly know the full depths of Nosaj Thing's produced hydrospheres would be impossible, and his multiple layers of sonic intricacy feel too subtle to be fully comprehended. However, despite the beauty of the overwhelming wash of Home, there lacks the feeling of the whole transcending its impressive cogs, and there is little for the listener to clutch onto as they emerge from the surface.