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  • Filed under: Review
  • 04/14/2014

J. Velez Territories

Following up last year's well-received MMT Tape Series collection for Rush Hour, late-blooming Jersey City producer J. Velez presents six loosely connected, genre-defying cuts on Territories, a lean LP which values open-ended sonic experimentation over most everything else.

With the release of Territories coinciding with Velez's announcement that he would soon be retiring his Professor Genius alias, this LP could be seen as something of a new starting point for the artist's creative endeavors. If so, Velez here does not seem particularly intent on nailing down an exact direction or sound to define this new era in his career. It's nearly impossible to pinpoint how exactly Territories' six cuts are connected together other than by Velez's restless sound manipulation and the familiar L.I.E.S. hardware crunch which lines much of the album. Still, the record never sounds at odds with itself; instead, Territories is proudly playful and aimless. Droning opener "Blood and Bones" leads to the industrial chug of "Curves," and from there, Velez really takes nothing but more left turns—"Festival Mounds" endlessly tweaks bubbling synths over a miniature beat, "Ley Lines" takes a submarine voyage beneath uneasy sci-fi synths, and "Wrecks" offers a thickly textured, faintly melodic soundscape. The closing "Venas" is the record's only cut that resembles Velez's work on the MMT Tape Series, its slow-motion four-on-the-floor providing a rhythmic bed for a series of new-age sound improvisations.

Like much of L.I.E.S.' catalog, Territories is refreshingly unrestricted. Velez sounds free to follow a number of creative whims, and has no trouble seeing them through to their ends. Still, while these various excursions are certainly unique and interesting, they are seldom exciting. As such, this is an LP that is likely to please hardware heads and diehard electronic adventurers, but won't offer much to those who only venture this far left of the norm for special occasions.

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