There's a lot happening in the sepiatone realm of nostalgia. The lines between real nostalgia and imagined, 'unremembered' are ever blurred as a generation more connected than ever mixes its own memories with others. Whether it's dubstep looking back to garage and 2-step, hypnagogic artists (and everyone else) mining '80s pop and incidental music, or techno producers worshipping rave music gone and past, nostalgia is a currency. So it's no coincidence that one of the most universally lauded electronic music labels in recent years—Rush Hour—focuses on reissues and repackaging. But that also means that when they actually release something new, it's usually pretty special, a category that debut album Plastic World from Bournemouth producer Benjamin Thomas happily inhabits.
A lucky few would have first heard BNJMN through "Blocks," which made a few memorable appearances in podcasts surrounding an extremely limited and mysterious single release on Rush Hour. Instantly affecting, "Blocks" is so very current in that it's not all that current-sounding at all. An overcast lens blur smudges the proceedings, but it can't obscure the track's beautiful, sanguine melody, the claustrophobic space further crowded by the pitter-patter of cardboard-box drum machines and severely warped chords.
It's a risky place to start your album, but Plastic World sees Thomas spanning decades and bridging disparate memories with ease throughout. The album's sound is unclassifiable, rooted in the classicist mores of its Dutch home but refusing to keep its gaze fixed wholly backward (which would appear to be the larger manifesto for the Direct Current sublabel it appears on). When Thomas isn't making staggered, oddball house tracks ("See Thru Stars") he's making highly repetitive, mechano-funk jams, his own bleary-eyed take on Brainfeeder hip-hop. The motion sick volume oscillation buries the Italo references of "Flight Tunnel," and "Fire in the Hall" is a hardcore-inspired take on Teebs, pulling in that producer's kitchen sink percussion and channeling it into loping, tumbling breaks.
In a way, Plastic World is the sunnier, more hopeful counterpart to Actress' landmark 2008 debut album Hazyville. Both records are self-contained, introspective diaries profiling a distinct universe dreamed up by a restlessly brilliant creator, attaching their own idiosyncrasies to an established aesthetic (BNJMN chooses classic British electronica over Actress' submerged Drexciyan ruins). The result is a short, succinct album that makes a far greater statement than many double its length, packing a wallop of a basswise impact beneath its shimmering, stained-glass exterior. BNJMN's Plastic World is not so fake after all, one of those meek, unassuming albums that insidiously sticks with you, burrowing in your consciousness and staying in the back of your mind for longer than you'd expect.
Buy BNJMN - Plastic World at
Tracklist: BNJMN - Plastic World 01. Blocks
02. Wheels In Motion
03. Tunnel Flight
04. Fire In The Hole
05. Plastic World
07. See Thru The Stars
09. Ocean Spray
10. Miniature Steps
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