A producer since he was a freshman in high school, Nosaj Thing has crafted cosmic-sounding instrumentals for the likes of Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar and other underground hip hop artists. It’s his solo work, however, that most fully reveals his musical palette. Nosaj Thing—alias of L.A.-based producer Jason Chung—returns after his acclaimed 2009 debut Drift with a glitch-hop album imbued with melancholy and expanded to accommodate a fuller sonic spectrum.
Home, Nosaj Thing’s sophomore LP, is a reflection on the impermanence of sound. The title-track launches a world full of chopped-up ghostly vocals, drum snaps and electronic interjections. The opener, like many others on the album, feels like the soundtrack for a wayward astronaut floating through the lonely vacuum of space, a MIDI board hard-wired into his suit.
The next track “Eclipse/Blue,” features vocals from Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino. The guest vocals, a new addition to Nosaj Thing’s musical repertoire, add a layer of beauty to his sound. Makino’s sad but vibrant voices couples with the sense of longing established by the lyrics (‘I used to know/ how to please you’) and breathes despondency into the album’s soundscape.
The midsection of the LP is the weakest: it’s ephemeral in a way that borders on ineffectual. Songs like “Safe,” “Glue,” and “Tell” are aesthetically pleasing, and they pass by without complaint, but they are ultimately devoid of compelling features.
Home’s inconsequential string of songs is countered by a brilliant downtrodden ending sequence. “Try,” “Phase III” and “Lights Off” lend weight to an electronic sound that fades in and out, giving glimpses but never sticking to one audio trick for very long. “Try,” with guest vocals from Toro y Moi, especially hits home and is the strongest song on the album. The track starts off with a pulsating drumbeat matched up with eerie vocal apparitions that eventually transforms into Toro y Moi’s trademark ethereal vocal signature. Vacillating in between “I know I did you wrong/ I know I did you right,” the singing coalesces unexpectedly well with Nosaj Thing’s ambient glitch.
Home is propelled by a promising beginning, hindered by a passable midsection and saved by a poignant conclusion. A great glimpse into the continuing evolution of a promising producer, the LP reveals itself as a comfortable place for Chung to explore new vocal territory and lend weight to the vastness of his electronic creations.