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I ran through a couple music reviews for JANG, a musical project by the talented artist Nick Stanifer, and was most surprised at how his music is often described.
Take into account that I do resent having to box music into categories and pre-made schemes myself, but unfortunately the commercial market seems to have acquired a habitual dependence on music genres.
However, I think that when we’re called upon to fix a name tag to any musical piece, it would be advisable to call a spade a spade.
Reading reviews describing JANG’s music as “Electronic/experimental/abstract…”, to me means you’ve just got 2 out of 3 wrong! And I gave you the third as good, because “experimental” covers just about anything.
But that’s because we ran into LEVITIATHAN, the latest album released by JANG on the 10th of May 2012, recently over at Bandcamp.
If we, let’s say, ran into the album JUNGLE DUETS, released 28th of March 2012 also by JANG, the above musical genre description would have been perfect.
See why I dislike boxing artists into genres?
Universal artists like Nick Stanifer prove you wrong time and time again…from one album to the next!
So what makes LEVITIATHAN different from the previous album?
Everything as far as I’m concerned. The album showcases sprawling doses of sound covering acoustic guitars, real drums, organs, pianos, an harmonica and percussion. This is as far removed from electronic/abstract, as is distant, chalk from cheese…even though there is a synth in there somewhere.
On this album JANG delights us with the human factor, by simply playing and singing good old tunes in a recording studio. Which in this case was Renegade Studios in Sacramento,CA.
LEVITIATHAN opens with the crunching electric guitar riffs of “Everlasting Cup” which sits somewhere between the Sex Pistols and David Bowie on the hypothetical sound scale. “I Believe In You” is a very brief sugar sweet acoustic-guitar interlude before we move into Talking Heads territory with the scintillating tempo changing “Saturn’s First Return”.
“The Psychic” possibly remains the album’s absolute highlight for me. A slow, hypnotic and haunting bass-dominated rhythm, forms the perfect backdrop to Nick Stanifer’s low-key vocal phrasing.
Uncluttered yet profound, this composition confirms that it’s not how much music you put into a song, but rather how you put it there, that really makes the difference. Genius.
The album continues with “Strange Generation” and the punkish “Lenador” which to be fair, displays a sprinkle of JANG’s experimental touches found on his previous albums.
“She Was Once My Nurse” is another acoustic-guitar driven rhythmic ditto, which also highlights another of JANG’s strengths. The ability to write clever tongue-in-cheek lyrics that dissect the mind and soul with the precision of a freshly sharpened scalpel.
“Don’t Expect A Call” leads us to other album highlights. Like “What Will Become Of The Workers In Sound” and “Together”. In which Nick Stanifer exhibits the same poetic brilliance of a young and rebellious Lou Reed. Long before Lou sold his soul to Metallica and other junk albums of course.
So after a good long listen, how would we describe the Nick Stanifer project, JANG?
Considering that Nick has worked on 4 albums during the past two years. Each different in concept and execution. We’d say that JANG is a courageous young innovator who shows no fear of taking chances with his music.
He moves from remixing other artists music, to playing and composing his own, without much ado. And whether it’s electronica or acoustic doesn’t really seem to make much difference to him either.
More than to any genre, the JANG project belongs to a very rare group.
The group of creative souls.
Of which Nick Stanifer should be a proud member.