Reviewed by Sarah Mearon (The Stanford Daily)
With its deluge of digital distortion and spasmatic beats, Jega's second album is an inspired creation of electronic sound. "Geometry" is a mix of perturbed beatitudes that is nonetheless a thematic album unified by chaos. Hailing from Manchester, England, Jega is 26-year-old Dylan Nathan, a former architecture school student whose raw talent was originally captured on several seven-inch and twelve-inch E.P.s from a few small U.K. labels. "Spectrum" was his first record released on the U.S.-based independent label Matador Records and received widespread acclaim for its carefully constructed synthesis of spasmodic percussion and moody rhythms. "Geometry" is an equally complex and creative opus that resonates with intensity and backbreaking beats. As a whole, the album is darker and more melancholy than "Spectrum," which probably reflects Jega's maturation as an electronic artist in the two years since its release. Gone are the somewhat tacky experimental tracks like "Red Mullet" and "Bikini Ski Boat" that were part of the eclectic mix on "Spectrum." "Geometry" is a much more coherent album that, taken as a whole, is an imaginative cornucopia of richly textural, anarchic sounds.
"Alternating Bit" kicks off the album with a nightmarish blend of raw, metallic beats that blend with haunting string reverberations to create a frenetic sound that surges toward a densely emotional climax and tapers off, leading into "Syntax Tree," which continues in the same vibe. Jega adds chimes to this second track and in doing so, creates a fervid duel between these soothing, somewhat passive sounds, and the obnoxiously raw beats and snarling rhythms that pervade the track, thereby contributing to the fiercely chaotic theme of the album.
Most of the tracks are masterful blends of fortuitous noise and mangled melodies. "Recursion," with its stuttering beats and buzzing percussion, is an impatient and energetic track akin to a frantic, high-speed police chase down an interstate. "Rigid Body Dynamics" is equally spirited, yet seems to be even more fervent, with its gritty, piercing mechanical beats that are musically comparable to nails scraping down a chalkboard.
"Post Mid Arc" and "Motion Math" both trend toward the industrial and are dominated by prickly melodies and coarser, more guttural sounds that are smothered in a mechanical overprint. In "Motion Math," the beats are so erratic and frantic that it seems like Jega is battling to keep the track from going totally out of control.
Not all of "Geometry" is so spasmodic. "Breakpoint Envelope" is not as gritty as a lot of the other tracks. Its complex beats are cleaner and not as tinny and the rhythm, though erratic, is punctuated by sporadic bursts of gurgly sounds that aren't as sinister as those permeating other songs on the album. Similarly, "Static" is dominated by gentler, more emotionally rich percussion that gradually increases in complexity, yet never gets as frenetic or aggressive as in tracks like "Post Mid Arc" or "Rigid Body Dynamics."
The title track is vaguely reminiscent of Japanese electronica and stands out as a moody, more melodious track amid a record full of rip-roaring beats. "Inertia" and "Subdivision Surfaces" are even more chill than the title track. The chimes of "Syntax Tree" are reborn in "Inertia," where they serve to create a scintillating, expressive symphony of sound that is a welcome break from the hard-hitting percussion dominant on the rest of the album.
A well-balanced mix of fidgety drum 'n' bass and moody, distorted melodies, "Geometry" is a complex album that, like "Spectrum" before it, is breaking down the barriers of electronica by integrating inspired emotion and depth of sound into a historically cold, often unimaginative genre.As long as Jega continues to experiment with stellar sounds and tangled rhythms, he will undoubtedly persist as one of electronica's newest boy wonders.
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