Heathered Pearls: Body Complex
Ghostly International

The name Jakub Alexander will be familiar to those acquainted with Moodgadget, the electronica net-label he founded with Adam Hunt in 2004 while living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, especially when so many of the artists featured on the label went on to release albums on Ghostly International. Whereas Loyal, Alexander's late-2012 debut collection under the Heathered Pearls name, emphasized the ambient side of the Greenpoint, Brooklyn-based producer, Body Complex shifts the focus in part to the club floor, with a number of its electronic productions powered by dance rhythms.

A key inspiration for the change in direction derives from Alexander's mid-teen years, when he was a fifteen-year-old DJ attending raves and returning home bleary-eyed at 7 am. It was during that time that he discovered artists such as Terrence Dixon and Lawrence, both of whom impressed Alexander for the way they blended elegance and drive in their productions. In fact, Lawrence in particular could be seen as a model of sorts for Heathered Pearls, given how studiously Alexander attempts to achieve his own take on Lawrence's refined ambient-techno fusion. Truth be told, many of the album's tracks sound like the work of one producer too greatly influenced by the creative output of another.

Alexander is assisted on Body Complex by a number of friends, specifically Shigeto (Zachary Shigeto Saginaw), Outerbridge (Thomas Mullarney III), and especially Rafael Anton Irissari, who mixed and mastered the album and appears on a track under his The Sight Below alias. The brief opener “Cast in Lemon & Sand” indicates that Alexander hasn't left his ambient interests entirely behind, but it also opens the album underwhelmingly. Though its deletion would have shaved two minutes off the total running time, he might have been wiser to begin Body Complex with the punchier “Sunken Living Area,” a late-night house workout whose skeletal swing is earmarked by flickering synth details and a low-slung bass thrust. The recording thereafter alternates between atmospheric techno cuts (“Abandoned Mall Utopia”) and synth-heavy meditations primed for the listening lounge (“Holographic Lodge”), with “Warm Air Estate” memorable for the appeal of its sultry vocal expressions and overall thrust.

It's a modest album in both presentation and duration, with ten songs weighing in at a flab-free thirty-eight minutes. Yet while the good-but-not-great Body Complex is certainly polished on production and execution grounds, it would have benefited from more of the dynamic attack captured in the Heathered Pearls-The Sight Below collab “Personal Kiosk.” Interestingly, in that regard a similar kind of criticism could be levied against Lawrence's work in general as much as to Alexander's sophomore effort.

September 2015