Nosaj Thing hasn't disappointed me yet. How many artists can you say that about and truly mean it? It's equally rare to find an artist that you stick with throughout their entire career because the records, the body of work is an ever-evolving glance of the infinite through their eyes. OK, maybe not, but that's part of what's so attractive about the kinda' music Nosaj Thing makes: It's universal. It's electronic, though seemingly including an audible collage of digital and analog machinery. His compositions render soundscapes that encompass many forms. This is especially true on Fated. While his music is symphonic, Nosaj manages to splice and weave differing genres together so fluidly through this dreamy symphonic framework . The whole LP just rolls, like an image of waveforms. There is nothing anthemic or poppy , so if that's what's you're seeking, I would suggest lookin' elsewhere. This is music for the audibly-challenged: Music addicts like you and me who listen to so much shit we're constantly seeking new musical territory to sink into and explore.
Welcome to Fated - listening to this LP has been thought-provoking and meditative - what a great record should be...
"Cold Stares" is a piece of wicked future r&b. The humming bassline, the soaring horn-like sound, the soulful dip and sway of the groove. Hmmm. The cyphers at the tail of the track are deeper than I thought upon first listen, so give it a couple. There's poetry there, and I hit repeat at least 2-3 times when that song comes on during the review process. "Ski" kicks the LP off summoning Holy Other, with serene synths just stirrin' the low-end at a constant ripple. Then sharp transient synth stabs travel across the soundstage with ethereal synths weaving in and around the other elements. "Don't Mind Me"s steals a bit from James Blakes style (not a bad thing) using these hovering, speedy broken-vocal samples, soundin' like small bleepy percussion during the intro. The pounding broken-beats of "Realize" made me throw my hands up like I was on the dancefloor, and I loved every minute of it. "Erase" thumps. The sound is immediate and flowy, which is also a part of the bigger picture here. The LP ebbs and flows naturally, making it a pleasure to play from beginning to end. With wonderfully dark, minimal tracks like "A" (also soundin' a bit like earlier Holy Other) sandwiched between two bangin' clicky ambient tracks like "Medic" and "Phase IV", the dynamic contrast provides a captivating looking glass into the theme for most of this record.
Fated belongs, IMHO , amongst the company of other albums that comprise the fine art of studio-recorded electronic/experimental music. Timeless albums like Aphex Twins' I Care Because You Do, Photeks' Form and Function, and Goldies' most-appropriately-titled Timeless to name a few. And "Moon" is a shining example of the brilliance in Fated. The damn song is a minute long, but it engages so many different styles of music from its core: Which is electronic - that when it's over I feel like I've been listening to it for three minutes! "2K" the closing track, is, for me, like hearing and feeling early-mornin' beams of sun-light through the windows of the warehouse party, as all of us on the dancefloor raise our hands in unison to give it up to Jah, and then its time to get the fuck DOWN again. The bass rolls in like a subway, trackin', and zips on through the soundstage amongst these panning synth pads and stabs, as well as other atmospheric samples, creating this sort-of cosmic vibe. At one point there's this consistently ascending synth that grows as the intensity of the low-end increases. There's always an interesting juxtaposition of triggered sounds that create these enveloping sonic landscapes, and Nosaj Thing has a masterful handle on dynamic contrast, so the multitude of sounds blend seamlessly in some of his greatest compositions. The tonality is velvety throughout Fated - as all the tracks, while they're not the most complex pieces of electronic music, sometimes the sheer beauty is found in simplicity. I could listen to "2K" over and over again, especially at dawn or dusk. It's the track they pick in the soundtrack during the epiphany scene. The protagonist has spent the whole movie on this wild journey - and it ends with a revelation on the beach at sunset. That's what the building energy of "2K" feels like to me. Now, I tend to keep these kinda records real damn close, so I imagine it's needless to say that I highly recommend it. But for those readers who skip to the last couple of sentences to get the drift of a review (yeah, been there) at least you'll see that! Seriously, I think it just became my favorite Nosaj Thing record! And I decided that right when I typed it just now. Check it out if it seems like you'd feel music like this.
Nosaj Thing did somethin' else with this LP, somethin' that more of us should practice in our every-day: He completed it. I know that may sound ridiculous, and certainly obvious- but it's a splendid experience, listening to Fated from beginning to end. So many LPs today are just filler with a couple of cool tracks, if you're lucky. My tip of the cap to Nosaj Thing for keeping to his vision. Keep em rockin'! Because this record is just plain dope... ;)
System used during listening sessions:
MacBook Pro Retina SSD / Amarra Symphony
SubPac S2 SoloSub
Audeze LCD-2 & EL-8 open-back planar headphones
Wired w/ Double Helix Cables : Hifi-M8 to SubPac, SubPac to Audeze EL-8/LCD-2
Wywires Litespd Digital Platinum Series from USB to Hifi-M8
PS: I also reviewed Home, his last LP, for Positive Feedback
- check it out