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Nosaj Thing Home

(Timetable) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

On 2009’s Drift, newcomer Nosaj Thing sounded like a down-tempo electronic prodigy. The record had frequent flashes of brilliance but, at least for me, often felt thin and underdeveloped. In the years since, he’s been good for the occasional single and guest spot, including the excellent Kendrick Lamar collaboration Cloud 10. On Home, he sounds more comfortable, patient and creative. The record is more eclectic than its predecessor, but doesn’t sacrifice atmosphere for variety. It maintains a consistently warm yet distant feeling throughout.

Despite leaning more towards ambient music than Drift, Home is a denser, more layered album. Most songs feature a subtle complexity, and, instead of building and focusing on a central motif, evolve and change from section to section. The guitar break on the standout Eclipse/Blue, which features a gorgeous vocal guest spot from Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, is exceptionally well placed. The following track, Safe, sounds as if it could have been lifted straight from a Clams Casino instrumental mixtape.  It showcases Nosaj Thing’s commitment to a slower, more methodic production style, and, while hardly original, he manages to make the sound his own.

He wisely keeps the record to a succinct length. It clocks in at 36:30 and is paced wonderfully. Whenever it starts to slow down or threatens boredom he pulls out an unexpected new layer, adding polyrhythms, hazy vocal samples, any deeper element to keep the intrigue alive. All the dragging that occurs (and there isn’t much of it) happens in the tracks in between the two album highlights: Eclipse/Blue and Try, featuring Toro y Moi, who sounds beautifully at home amid the hazy atmospheric beats. The songs in the album's middle section can blend together a bit, but that’s not entirely negative. They may not demand as much attention, but they do provide a relaxing, highly enjoyable listen.

There are plenty of producers making down-tempo, atmospheric electronic music. Nosaj Thing might not be the most original of them, but he does what most can’t: he finds a voice in a flooded genre. The record is nothing new, but he somehow manages to make it all his own. That’s something special and something that can’t be ignored.