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Album Review: Nosaj Thing, Fated

Of his contemporaries in the L.A. beat scene, Nosaj Thing errs on the low-key end of the spectrum. Whereas the latest releases by Flying Lotus and Shlohmo embody a more maximalist, up-tempo production, Fated embodies all things minimal: lots of negative space, silences, introspective production, and repressed harmonies at a tempo more suited for reflection rather than for getting hyped. “Sci,” the opening track, takes near thirty seconds to open up beyond a passive low-end figure, and even then, the track is still slow to open itself up; new elements are introduced sparingly and retreat almost immediately thereafter. Fated sees Nosaj continue down his road towards transparent production. While he is certainly not as transparent as artists like SOPHIE, Nosaj has come a long way even since 2009’s Drift. Tracks like “A” and “Medic” highlight this blending of all elements percussive and harmonic. Even here, in music that is utterly of a scene obsessed with the fantastical world of science fiction, Fated is inherently directed towards humanity. Every track is delicately crafted such that even in a soundscape that is wholly of the sequencer, the listener finds harmonies as gentle as those found in “A.”

But that’s basically a succinct summary of Nosaj’s entire output, isn’t it: human music for the digital age. That said, Fated is still a progression of his music. While the album certainly doesn’t stray too far from the sound curated in his previous albums, Fated clearly reaches towards the hyper-digital sounds of artists like Arca, Actress, Evian Christ, and PC Music. See the extreme vocal pitch shifting in “Don’t Mind Me,” reminiscent of James Blake’s “CMYK,” for further details. On a macro scale, Fated is the logical successor to 2013’s Home and the logical progression of the Nosaj sound. What few risks he takes are minimal and cloaked in his typical glitch-hop sound. Maybe next time…

-CAMERON HENJA, INTERN