Thursday, April 14, 2016

Nosaj Thing - No Reality Review

Just weeks before Fated dropped last year Nosaj Thing's tour van was broken into, decimating the producer, setting him back approximately $20,000 in equipment. Not just that, the smallest item, his hard drive, was the most essential, harboring everything that he held dear musically. Years of toil and labor thrown out the window, setting him and his continued efforts to reach a larger crowd back significantly. Being that Fated was already complete the album didn't reflect this catastrophe, featuring some of his most elemental, atmospheric, and at times giddy music to date. No Reality aims to change the tone. A quick five track, 18 minute EP presumably created from then to now, No Reality draws upon a harsher reality, one that brings in little light, about as much as the cover art aims to show. So while Nosaj Thing's past may have been lost, his future aims at picking up the pieces, constructing what he once had with a new perspective on life. For his fans, Jason Chung still holds what he knows dear; lush soundscapes centered around Hip-Hop-laced Wonky beats, poised at pleasing, nothing more, nothing less.

Both on the surface and underneath No Reality is very much a Nosaj Thing project, no loss of that which he holds dear will sway the true talents behind each moving piece. Inconspicuously labeled 'N R 1,' 'N R 2' and so forth, the five tracks have no identifier, no features, and apart from some distant vocal sampling, no human interference. That is to say, while conceptually adhesive, the tracks don't prominently feature a face from which one can gleam differences off of compared to the others. That is excluding 'N R 3' and the distinctive sounds of a male voice, repeating over and over the regurgitating hymns of near Reggae origin. The stuttering drums laced within him, and the constantly building elements, make No Reality's middle track the clear standout. The only other particular peak-up rarely obstructs the view of 'N R 4,' but its presence is unnerving and impenetrable important. A looming, dark, menacing voice mouths the EP's title, but only twice, leaving its existence a small, but noticeable wrinkle in No Reality's fabric. Elsewhere, what's left to focus on is Thing's trademarked beats, spacey, defiant, and progressive, the other three tracks do an admirable job at continuing where he left off on Fated.

Startling synths, hand claps, looping pianos, a constantly fluctuating background, just some of his inherent placemats set here. Which does, unfortunately, make No Reality a bit forgettable. Talk up and down about the past by which this EP supersedes but the point remains that this really is just five new beats from a talented, if narrowly so producer. His textures are fantastic, the means by which he does them however are rather rudimentary. If you've heard Fated nothing here will surprise you, and as an artist you should always be evolving, trying new things, not settling into something formulaic. Can't fault Thing too much considering his massive losses however, but as they say, the music speaks for itself, and while good, No Reality tends to glide in the middle lane. Nosaj Thing's production has always felt right when lingering under another artist, out on its own it lacks diversity. The rarity by which he does work with others is a bit disappointing, his style is infinitely noticeable so it's not like he'd be forgotten, and in fact continuing down this path may equate to that same worry. So while No Reality sees a bright and hopeful return, it doesn't truly feel like it wants to be wanted.

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