Nosaj Thing makes electronic music but a very delicate one if there is such thing. His soundscapes have nothing to do with these usual heavy, repetitive and stultifying beats that populate all EDM parties, they are light and creative, a bit opaque at times, but always inviting ,even for a person like me who is generally not a fan of electronica. When Steve Aoki – and I am not mentioning him because he is another Asian guy, he just happens to be the only electronic top DJ I have seen live – bluffs his audience with bulldozer beats, Nosaj elegantly builds origami sonic sceneries. I am not even sure it is fair to bring them both in the same sentence.
Jason Chung aka Nosaj thing, who is part of Flying Lotus’ Low End Theory crew and scene, was giving an in-store at Amoeba on Thursday night and he immediately asked to turn the lights off… ‘I am on acid’, he said with a smile, ‘no I’m not!’ This was his sole interaction, I continue to find electronic shows quite boring and that may be the reason why they often add visuals. But there were no visuals this time, just Nosaj behind his electronic stuff, letting all these sounds, electronically modified voices and slow beats escape in various shapes and modulations. It was rather relaxing, almost druggy and the strange sonic textures could have let any imagination travel and venture. If you are not too attentive, you could close your eyes and feel anywhere you want to be, getting soak in a rainforest? Floating in deep space? Gliding on warm water? With all this rainfall, crunchy beats, swirl ambiance and ethereal voices, which curiously had a soul-R&B essence, Nosaj sculpted organic and mysterious adventures that didn’t really make people dance, although a few guys in front of me were slowly moving and banging their head.
I am always stunned when people know where to applause during electronic shows, because Nosaj would hardly slow down and did not even stop making sounds once during the whole set. My brain has always a hard time to tell where a track ends and another starts in these cases, still more-educated-than-me people were obviously recognizing songs. Curiously, they all sounded alike and different, with a common melancholic vibe, even a bit Radiohead-ish at times, but going into a large range of noises and beats habited by impersonal voices, or soft synth that could make your whole body vibrate.
After the show he signed copies of his third album, ‘Fated‘(released on Innovative Leisure). ‘I just tried to escape really, and escape even what’s going on in the music world,” said Nosaj Thing in an interview, ‘It just felt so suffocating in a way. I just wanted to do my own thing.’
This new record, which features guest vocals from Whoarei and Chance the Rapper, is apparently more stripped down than the previous one: ‘The last record took out so much of me. I just wanted to go back to simplifying and overthinking so much. It was a battle,’ said Nosaj. ‘The soul of a song, the essence of a song – whatever you want to call it – should be simple.’
Simple? May be, but this fluid music still sounds very enigmatic to my ears, and it is not a negative thing, it is just a Nosaj thing.
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