Nosaj Thing Parallels Innovative Leisure
Nosaj Thing, real name Jason Chung, rose to prominence on the same wave of lopsided rhythms that washed Flying Lotus into the public eye, but his musical palette has always been wider than the distinctive LA beat sound, embracing more ambient and ethereal aesthetics in his remixes and own material.
Along the way, Chung has established a respectful reputation among his peers, demonstrated in the calibre of artists (Jon Hopkins, Jamie xx, Dorian Concept) queuing up to remix his 2009 debut, Drift. His next album, Home introduced vocal collaborator Kazu Makino on the beautiful Eclipse/Blue.
Makino also features on Parallels, Chung’s fourth album. Her sorrowful lament to a disenfranchised relationship on How We Do is, unlike her previous collaboration, pretty unremarkable, with Chung’s melody and production sounding worryingly generic. Chung has described this album as the result of a personal and musical ‘identity crisis’. But if the melancholia that takes centre stage flows from a place of genuine turmoil, the execution is at times disappointingly lacking. There are some striking moments: lead single All Comes Back To You (a collaboration with vocalist Steven Spacek) is a menacing ballad and deeper in the album, Get Like is powered by a funeral-march rolling rhythm. But because of the simplicity of the vocal collaborations and the gentleness of the material, the album as a whole feels contemplative to the point of becoming grating. Another vocal collaboration (Way We Were with Zuri Marley) befalls a similar fate: Marley’s general-purpose emoting is paired with soft-focus production, and the end result is beige and bland. Nosaj Thing material has always walked a nuanced line between subtle aesthetics and killer hooks, but despite some flashes of brilliance, on Parallels there’s an absence of both.