Jeads – Under the Veneer

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07 February 2020 (released)

3 d

The notion of home is monumentally strong in music. Just like a familiar smell, a musical passage or even the tonal characteristic of an object making a sound can trigger deep-seated emotions and draw out old memories. Even the building blocks of music itself, chordal structure, is defined in terms of returning “home”. Our ears long for cadences that pull us from tension back to the relief of our starting point. So much of what hooks us into a piece of music is its link to an early childhood motif. Many of the refrains that stick in our brains are riffs on a melody we heard deep in our youth. Pop music is replete with them. With instrumental music, it’s the timbre (tonal quality) of a track’s elements that can invoke this nostalgic pang that activates our addiction.

Pacific Northwest producer Jeads is highly in tune with his sense of home. The musician who has made a name for himself using found sounds to craft his lush soundscapes is back with Under the Veneer, a gorgeous record comprised of field recordings of winter’s natural rhythms and resonances from his idyllic stomping grounds and melodically-based around a music box that he has carried with him for years. The combination of these sonics coalesces into a palpable sense of familiarity that is conveyed to the listener, even though they may not share the exact same sparks for wistful contemplation.

The opener ‘Left Alone’ leads the record off with a state of steady propulsion, like a calm train ride through tree-lined passages. The track evokes Underworld’s early ’90s material circa Dubnobasswithmyheadman. Peacefully euphoric, Jeads’ round plunking keys and heartbeat rhythms set the stage for a halcyon trip through the mind.

‘Deception Pass’ introduces us to the music box motif under a laid-back half-time swing-step. Bow-like pads and playful shakers harken back to youthful days. The music box carries over into the title track, a sensuously swaying soundtrack that surreptitiously swells from soft serenity to surging surf before subsiding back to its starting point. ‘Under the Veneer’ captures a vibe of oceanic inspired electronica that fans of Trent Reznor’s soundtracks or NIN’s Still album will greatly appreciate. Jeads has the same talent at creating these intrinsically rich and beautiful electronic mantras.

It’s hard to and hardly worth dissecting the album song by song. The piece flows so seamlessly, it does you a service to just let yourself drift off into the soothing quixotic realms that Jeads has created. Under the Veneer is everything a low-key, contemplative, dreamy, instrumental album should be. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, slap it on some good headphones and find yourself back at home.

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