A restless take on jazz, funk and fusion in the Brainfeeder mould.
The opening track, "Promises," bursts into being with a brassy introduction rippling with a wah-driven bassline. At this point, the LP echoes several other key Brainfeeder artists: the restlessness of Flying Lotus, the free-floating jazz of Kamasi Washington, the sad-dude cartoonishness of Thundercat. But Johnson quickly establishes the album as distinctly his own. The scenes he sets move rapidly. His keyboards are the foundation, with the rest of the music shapeshifting around their pastel tones.
Johnson says The Nature Of Imitation is meant to play on our short attention spans, Western culture's retreat into subjectivity and "cumulative error." But for all its lofty intentions and complex construction, it is a remarkably easy listen. "J Buyers" winds up slowly, then flings itself open with a big-hearted beat whose joy lingers long after the track turns mellow. "E13"'s long, skronky synth solo is tamed by a clap-along hip-hop beat. These songs are occasionally touched by a soulful melancholy, connecting them to what Johnson called the "chamber music" of Joined Ends. But their animating spirit is a bright, brash exuberance and a giddy sense of freedom.