For quite some time now, there’s been a soundtrack-like essence to the music Jumping Back Slash produces. Not the compilation-style “all your favourite hits from the movies” soundtracking either, but more in the sense that a lot of his work seems made for synaesthesia.
If the videos he put out, like that for the gorgeous ‘Come Rescue Me‘ weren’t enough of a hint, the titles for his projects have acted as clues to the sound-worlds he’s aimed to create. One wouldn’t be surprised if his projects were all created in singular sessions, where whatever the mood was in the room would be concentrated into these little bursts of very narrative music.
His last project, Slow Oceans, augmented this emphasis on mood with a heavier focus on vocals, which told stories of love and sirens and dreams, all painted across a sound canvas as crunchy and reduced as expected, but with an emphasis on fluidity as well as choppy white noises. Slow Oceans was still danceable, but the focus was redirected.
Now established as one of the most prolific producers in the country at the moment, Jumping Back Slash has returned with new music in the form of his new Sad Damage LP, though he hasn’t quite returned from the spirit-walk he began on Oceans.
From the get-go, the project sets itself up as one that’s not to be dominated by kicks and percussion. Here, the producer lets his synth and melodic work shine – all of which could be described as retro-futuristic with a smirk. They alternately smoulder under the surface in thick layers of bass or glide without ever quite soaring. The album’s centrepiece and stand-out track ‘Fire on the Ridge’ is a (surprisingly downtempo) synthesis of mood here, especially when paired with its mostly beat-less follow up ‘Seven’.
Electronic music, over the past few years, has become a genre of extremes – especially in the world of popular dance music. The happy music is delirious, and the stoic music is pitch-black. Add to that the popularity of the fash-emo cool guy rappers, dark titles often tell you everything you need to know. With Sad Damage, what you’ll find, though is something more contemplative, overtly emotional without coming (too) close to becoming a parody of what the said emotions should sound like.
This new album is still unmistakably JBS. The drums still thump when they appear, they just decide to appear less often, and no longer as the obvious centre of attention. By the time the album’s title track rolls through, after just over 20 mins of mood building – with the most overtly up-tempo percussion on the project, it feels like a small relief. As if you’ve just been through something and are all the better for it. It’s a minor victory, and even while dancing, we can all do with a good cry once in a while.
Stream Jumping Back Slash’s full album here.