Jam City Dream A Garden Night Slugs
It’s 2015, and Jam City feels suffocated by the world. Having released the first single from his anxiously awaited second album through a site that requires users to click through various ‘pop-ups’, he’s outlined reasons for his pervasive unhappiness; under 25 depression, nauseating capitalist ideals, faceless drone attacks. While his era-defining debut album Classical Curves, one of the most influential dance albums of the past five years, was a reconfiguration of the avant-garde club space, Dream A Garden sees Jam City abandon its chrome-plated, gleeful hyperventilation with a collection of tracks that feel like a deep, long sigh.
This stylistic U-turn was teased mid-last year, when Jack Latham swapped the searingly sassy vogue and grime of his Earthly mix series for the dust-laden third instalment, a warped montage of tracks and obscure vocal snippets that sounded like it’d been left out in the sun for too long. Where Classical Curves had been constructed, from an architectural perspective, of disembodied and isolated synthetic sounds, Dream A Garden expresses Latham’s contemplative concerns for humanity, looking above the dancefloor to those on it, those using clubbing as escapism, those “struggling to live and love beneath the chrome-plated, vacuous and superficial machinery”.
“And so it is then, this is a record about love and resistance.” Expressing his quiet despair in the essay accompanying it, Latham’s summed the vibe up pretty well. Its overarching sense of longing is bogged down with industrial elements. We’re brought in with scraping, jumbled metallic sounds that fight through the chaos to un- ravel themselves, forming ecstacy-flecked post-punk. Undulating guitar leads and soft, bloated chords are cut through with destructive, crunching percussion. Vocals about love and life sound like they’re constantly being chewed up and spat out by a crane, coming out distorted, warbled, lost.
Latham certainly took us all by surprise by releasing a second record that sounds more Blood Orange than Bok Bok. But if in 2015 the most radical thing you can do is believe in something, then Jam City has given us another essential effort.