It’s easy to see why what you might call 'alternative' press have been losing their shit over Jam City's new album 'Dream A Garden'. Times are tough, and at least there’s one person out there willing to say it straight in music. Soundtracking a world in crisis over nine gauzy songs of corporate detritus pulled apart and built back up again, producer Jack Latham finds hope in these sheaths and reverberations of rare beauty, synthesised. After all, people are desperate for it.
It’s a good thing, too, that Latham made the switch from the aggressive chop, smash, and screw of his 2012 debut album 'Classical Curves'. That’s not just because it’s a sound with a shelf life best contained to that 2012/13 window; it’s also because of the very real problem of resistance getting lost when hijacking a certain aesthetic – in the case of 'Classical Curves', a corporate, capitalist aesthetic – blurring the line between subversion and collusion.
But the worlds collide when we get in line, sings Latham in Today over a bouncing bassline that echoes the distinct smack of the lo-fi hypnagogic heyday of James Ferraro circa 'Last American Hero', or even Oneohtrix Point Never’s 'Replica'. Except Latham’s approach is more productive, or proactive, than fetishistic. Because rather than bathe it in the dreamy visuals of old school animations or waster psychedelia, the watery ebb of the Unhappy dreamscape is met with online visuals taken from the ugly side of advertising. XTube, rubbish, machine guns, newspaper headlines reading, No job, no cash: these make up the glut of images you have to click through on Jam City's website to get to the video for the lead single underneath it, and all of them are toxic.
I mention visuals here because with the project-at-large that is Jam City’s 'Dream A Garden', eyes and ears are indistinguishable, as much as words and ideology are too. Latham’s now-signature trench coat – with its punk patches pronouncing LOVE IS RESISTANCE and PROTEST & SURVIVE – has been mentioned exhaustively across interviews, and Unhappy comes accompanied by lyrics like You can prove it in your music / The will to disconnect. A pounding rhythm that’s circled by a repeated guitar twang rises and dissolves into its own vibrations in Today as Latham’s equally transluscent voice sings Only to see the stars fade away / Only to see your best friends fade away. This is the global era of the internet, where everything and everyone is connected and the sooner we realise that, the better. Maybe then we can do something to fix it.
Night Slugs release 'Dream A Garden' on March 23rd 2015 (buy).