January 25, 2013

Chris Daly: the right kind of sleazy.

For those of you who thought you had a pretty good grasp of what Nosaj Thing brings to the beat table, it might be time to think again. On Home, his sophomore album and first on the Innovative Leisure label, “Home,” the LA answer to Boards of Canada further eschews the rumbling bass he so freely experimented with on his debut, Drift, and remixes for a far more subdued sound. What’s more, the 27-year-old producer treads new ground, incorporating guest vocalists and collaborators for the first time.

To oversimplify: Home takes his music in a different direction than most of his trap-happy peers. This is still head music, but Nosaj adds a dash of caffeinated energy to his otherwise blunted beats. “Safe” and “Distance” are prime examples of the more barren soundscape he’s planting flags in. But it’s the songs that deviate from that formula that are the most engaging. Yes, “Eclipse/Blue” (with vocals by Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead) sounds an awful lot like Vespertine-era Bjork, but I happen to like Vespertine-era Bjork. And while the song has a distinctly trip hop vibe, again, NT’s slightly jolted sensibilities take the song in unexpected directions. “Glue” is another highlight, the instrumental utilizing oddly syncopated drums, a bit of static hiss and freaky keyboards to a strangely satisfying effect. “Try” probably is the song that will get the most blog love, if for no other reason, it’s the song that features Toro Y Moi. Fortunately, the sparse arrangement and ghostly vocals bemoaning a lost love and endlessly repeating, “I know I did you wrong” are hype worthy regardless of the names involved.

If Drift was Nosaj Thing trying to find his place in the world, Home certainly is an excellent next step towards solidifying his name and reputation. While more growth is to be expected, this is a great place to hang his hat for now.

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