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BBC – Music – Review of Nosaj Thing

Written by on October 27, 2020

“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.

That Drift wasn’t exactly loaded with floor-fillers makes Home a proposition so slight in places that it threatens to vaporise entirely, leaving only traces of songs where once beats bounced heartily. As pretty as cuts like the piano-led Prelude and the delicate motifs of Distance are, they risk relegation to background fare.

Naturally, the impression is rather different when Home plays out on headphones – this is, like Drift, a superbly immersive affair when the mood is right, when train windows fill with blurring vistas and the listener allows these 36 minutes to click as a relatively cohesive whole.

The title track buzzes like Starkey finally blinded from all his stargazing, and Glue pops and fizzes like the comedown at a southern playa’s pyjama party.

Like comparable producers’ work, though – that of Clams Casino for example – Nosaj Thing’s material can feel it’s missing a vocal anchor. Chung’s recognised this, and Home features contributions from both Toro y Moi (Chaz Bundick) on the slowly sizzling Try and Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino on Eclipse/Blue.

If the former proves a little too chillwave-y, the latter’s a real moment, a wonderful marriage of unique vocals and exemplary production. It’s a track that comfortably explores both IDM and hip hop colours and contrasts, its percussive constituents insistent yet perfectly accessible. And Makino’s typically breathy (and breath-stealing) performance is as captivating as Blonde Redhead fans have long known.

With remix credits on tracks by the likes of The xx, Portishead, Philip Glass and Flying Lotus, Chung has moved in some varied circles. Home goes some way to presenting a settled, singular sound at work – but, still, one feels this isn’t the zenith point of a winding career path. It’s frequently beautiful, but perhaps too ephemeral an experience to establish a hold on anyone with more than music on their mind.

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