Let's start with the process itself. Hurst took the names of his favourite bands, artists and books, and converted them into drum patterns via an unexplained transpositional method. He then turned those patterns into the foundations of grandiose electronic compositions, including traditional instruments like guitars and more unusual methods (such as "blowtorch on aluminum"). It results in an uneven record, one that comes together majestically at its best moments and sounds forced at its worst.
The idea of using the Latin alphabet to generate drum patterns brings to mind fractured, Autechre-style figures, but Hurst's system actually wrings out coherent rhythms. Jream House starts with "Durutti Gottsching," a 12-minute rush of Detroit techno that introduces some key elements: brittle drums bathed in reverb, big shoegaze chords and a widescreen sense of scope. It's an auspicious way to begin the album, evoking Durutti Column as much as E2-E4.
Parts of Jream House take Hurst's ambitions too far, and fail to reach the opener's high standard. "The Order Of Things," with its broad cinematic strokes, is painfully earnest. It's steeped in sentimentality, leaving the drums to skitter pointlessly. "Arthur Russell," the one song that samples its subject matter directly, makes clumsy use of his voice.
Some moments, however, are nearly as evocative and mysterious as "Durutti Gottsching." The brisk "Slow Channel" melts into a somber outro, and it's a fantastic set-up for the album's lovely finale. The jackhammer drums on "Grace" could make you think of software frantically converting text into sound data.
But the differences in track styles hint at the openness of Hurst's method—which in turn makes it feel irrelevant. We can read whatever we want into the titles; in the end, we're left with semi-autonomous drum programming underneath a lot of theatrics, some of which are genuinely moving and some of which feel overblown. By the time Jream House comes to its quiet, respectful close with "Am Me Evol Eye," it's easy to forget there's a theme behind Hurst's relaxing sprays of synth. The concept of Jream House, though neat in theory, is little more than window dressing.