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The Everything

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Album Review

It only took Jason Forrest a year to follow the hyper-maximalist, sample-mad sugar surge of his 2004 debut, The Unrelenting Songs of the 1979 Post Disco Crash, with the equally dazzling and demented Shamelessly Exciting — both albums which can be summed up remarkably well by the cheekily unabashed descriptors in their titles. But excepting 2010's brief Utopia EP — which can't — it was a quiet six years until he resurfaced with this third proper full-length. Once again, Everything tries mightily to live up to its title, cramming what might seem like every sound imaginable — elegantly atmospheric symphonics, heavy metal guitar shredding, electro-acoustic drones, chintzy soft pop keyboards, brass bands, ghostly choirs, hand claps, harpsichords, bongos, squeaky hinges, crackly field recordings — into its dense, micromanaged collages. Of course, that doesn't really mean the album has Everything. Never mind that one could easily list whole strata of the musical universe Forrest skipped over (most varieties of international/ethnic music, for one thing, not to mention almost any vocals beyond a couple of spoken snippets.) There's also the quibble that encyclopedic content (sound) is not the same thing as encyclopedic form (structure): most of these tracks — which tend to fall, at any given moment, anywhere along Forrest's typical rhythmic continuum from stiff, chopped-up electro-funk to spastic breakcore — are arranged in a similar cobbled-together way that feels both highly deliberate and almost entirely arbitrary. And, predictably, there's little evidence of fashionable musical attributes like harmonic coherence, emotional expressiveness, and restraint (well, there is the closing "Isolation, Too," whose sparse, muted piano clusters and relatively minimal percussive interference seem to exist mostly for completeness' sake, viz the disclaimer-like title.) Truth in advertising aside, there's the major caveat to Forrest fans that this album contains few, if any, recognizable samples, so despite many stylistic similarities to his earlier work it's a considerably different sort of listening experience; less like a candy-coated culture-jamming spree (except, perhaps, conceptually) and more like an iconoclastic updating of the Ninja Tune stable's millennial cut'n'paste adventures. Which isn't necessarily to suggest this is a difficult album to enjoy. Two tracks in particular — the nimble, Meters-like funk of "New Religion" and the swampy lurch of "Raunchy" (built around a bluesy, Link Wray-style guitar lick, and reminiscent of Unrelenting's CCR-sampling "Satan Cries Again") — stand out as both the catchiest and, not coincidentally, most precise in their genre-glossing gestures. But there are other pleasures too — "Crime of the Century"'s slinky, half-time stutter-step; "Keys to the Door"'s ersatz Steely Dan wankery; plenty of interspersed cartoonish, Carl Stalling-esque giddiness. Even if Forrest doesn't manage to be quite as deliriously exciting this time out, it's good to know that he remains shamelessly unrelenting. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi

Biography

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Breakcore/IDM/experimental artist Jason Forrest began his career recording under the alias Donna Summer, not only to confuse people who enjoy listening to the disco diva with the same name, but also (according to an interview on CBC Radio) for "subjecting people to a fake issue of diversity." Whatever the case, his frantic and highly original productions largely came out on his own Cock Rock Disco imprint; however, thus far he has released his most important works, The Unrelenting Songs of the 1979...
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The Everything, Jason Forrest
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