Jay Haze: Love for a Strange World

Merge Prince's Dirty Mind with Matthew Dear's Leave Luck To Heaven and you might end up with something like Jay Haze's Love for a Strange World. Having already issued numerous releases on Tuning Spork, Textone, Contexterrior, and Futuredub under his own name and aliases like The Architect and The Dub Surgeon, the new album constitutes an ambitious addition to that discography. In fact, Love for a Strange World might just as easily have appeared on Contexterrior, given its focus on minimal glitch-laden tracks that ooze a dark, experimental vibe. The album also exudes a slightly retro feel with its heavy dose of analog synths and percolating techno rhythms.

As mentioned, it occasionally recalls the Dear classic though given a distorted twist, the album's sound equivalent to an underground troll through a network of decadent clubs. That disturbed feel surfaces vividly in the burbling microhouse of “Easy Life” where the weary drawl of Haze's vocal evokes Dear's style. “Down and Out,” on the other hand, recalls Prince's bolder forays, with Haze adding a subtle African flavour to the song's swaying soul-funk rhythm and falsetto chants, as does the hypnotically danceable “I Can Love You.” Oddly, though, the vocal delivery on some tracks (“Big Eyes,” “Slow Down”) is not only distorted but druggy and lugubrious, with a dark and slightly paranoiac feel the result. In a wise move, Haze adds vocal contrast by featuring De:xter on three songs. His soulful wail gives a colourful boost to the minimal groove of “Appreciate” while the bleep-funk workout “Make My Dream” presents his voice as a chopped choir.

While the album is generally captivating, at 18 tracks and 70-minutes it's also a long haul, and listening interest starts to wane during the album's final third, especially when material of lesser quality appears: “Questioning” and “Funky Blues” are weakened by pained vocals and, though “I Wanna Come” works up a strongly lascivious party vibe, it's also a tad obvious (let's just say the title isn't about travel in the conventional sense); in short, judicious pruning could have reduced the release to a more digestible 50-minute length without severely crippling the recording in the process. Even so, Love for a Strange World largely succeeds at distilling an eclectic mix of minimal tech-house, glitchy experimentalism, and psychedelic dub into a bold and unusual cocktail.

May 2005