Review: Jam City – Classical Curves LP

Dance producers, for the most part, undertake putting an album together in a variety of ways, with each artist finding varying levels of success.  Some artists choose to make a statement altogether different from their previous work. James Blake took this approach, releasing his self-titled solo album last year, a work so removed from his previous EPs that it caused Portishead’s Geoff Barrow to ask Twitter if this decade would be remembered as the ‘Dubstep meets pub singer years?’. Other producers struggle to find a way to balance the demand of making music strictly for the dance floor and at the same time the knowledge that they should make an album that is listenable elsewhere. Shifted put a together collection of well produced tracks together for his recent album, “Crossed Paths”; however, you can’t help but wonder if he simply gathered a number of potential dance floor singles and called it an album. Yet other producers like Zomby and Nicolas Jaar approach album construction intending to carry the sensual element of a club setting into a longer format not intended for the club itself. “Classical Curves” presents Jam City’s vision of creating a club space, separate from the dance floor by trying to appeal to the senses apart from hearing.

Stream: Jam City – How We Relate To The Body (Preview) (Night Slugs)

Jam City clearly demonstrates his desire to bring your senses into the listening experience throughout the album by using sounds found in real life situations as percussion, forcing the listener to imagine those same situations in their mind. In the opener, “Backseat Becomes A Zone While We Glide”, he smashes glass for you, in “B.A.D.”, Jam City flashes cameras at you, in “The Courts” he plays basketball with you. These sounds cause you to imagine those situations, bringing a type of meta-sensual experience into the listening and take you to Jam City’s club world. In this club, Jam City hopes that you’ll hear tracks that “instead of [drive] and [pulsate] and [thud], they just hang there, suspended, paused”. He does this through the arrangement of Classical Curves, which begins with the more obvious dance floor material, like “Her” and “The Courts”, both of them having the kick drum and other percussion offer the driving force. Yet, later on in the album, Jam City brings the feeling of the club in a suspended form via the centerpiece, “Club Thanz”, presenting an alternative way of developing club tracks by removing the kick drum and allowing the remaining elements to develop the motion.

Stream: Jam City – Club Thanz (Preview) (Night Slugs)

Just like in any other club setting, “Classical Curves” would fail if Jam City let the mood remain in one position – listening would drag on without any variation in tone. Thus, the interludes “B.A.D.” and “Hyatt Park Nights Pt. 2” allow you to reassemble before being dropped back in to the regular motion of the album. However, though Jam City’s grooves at first may not always be the most obvious ones, they can be found. Strawberries in many ways seems like a kick-less remix of “Countess” from his “Waterworx” EP, yet if you give Jam City your patience, you’ll realize that he has suspended the track’s groove in air.

In “Classical Curves”, Jam City attempts to find “more than one way of making a banger”. He succeeds in many ways throughout the course of the album. In bringing the sensual elements of the club into a style that does not seem club oriented, Jam City forces you to search for the groove.

Jam City’s “Classical Curves” is out now on Night Slugs, buy it here.

Jack Murphy