The metadata was incorrect on the version of Jam City's Classical Curves that I received. It's something I wouldn't normally mention, but appears somehow relevant to an album that seems so concerned with the internet, plasticity and reality. The error caused the tracks on Jack Latham's debut full-length to play in random order. For an album built on jagged parts that barely fit together (but most definitely do), it was a disorienting experience. Especially when the album just seemed to—spoiler alert—stop altogether on "Love Is Real" for a little while, as though it couldn't go on.
Classical Curves is a dance music album in name only, and more accurately termed as simply an electronic one. Its palette sounds a bit like a modern update of Trevor Horn's Art Of Noise. That group was basically a hugely expensive experiment designed to uncover new sounds; nearly 30 years later, Latham's music sounds like it's using shiny, new software to create old ones. There are hints of the human: A voice saying various fashion-related commands on "Her," sneakers squeaking on wax on "The Courts." But they're always disembodied in such a way that things like broken glass and synthesized saxophones become comforting.
There are plenty of artists working within this space who go fully experimental ala James Ferraro, whose voluminous catalogue is full of hit-and-miss affairs. And there is the 100% Silk camp who make dance music, but don't make it with enough bite to fit naturally into the sets of DJs that might be inclined to play them. (Another discussion, another time.) Latham's aesthetic concerns are similar to both, but he cuts a middle path where he can have his cake and Ben UFO will play his shit too.
That's what elevates Classical Curves above both. In the way that John Maus uses pop against itself, Latham has figured out how to do the same with house, techno, UK bass and some other stuff as well. (In a recent interview, he said that some of the tracks would "isolate a soft Kerri Chandler organ chord or a bell texture and let those really powerful elements hang there.") Like Maus, it's an acquired taste. But if you have it, you'll likely find no better album this year.