Posted on may 19, 2023
FRESH JUICE: ‘The End Of All Physical Form’ by J-SHADOW
J-SHADOW locks into album mode once more on the highly revered Sneaker Social Club with the head rushing sonic intermissions of ‘The End Of All Physical Form’.
Words by Oisín Campbell/ Design by Michael Savage
We spoke to both the artist and the team behind Sneaker Social in depth around what made this release tick. Buy/ Stream here: sneakersocialclub.bandcamp.com/album/the-end-of-all-physical-form
Since 2019, J-SHADOW (Jason Kan) has taken on a sharp yet somewhat underlooked rise within dance circles, crafting a sound that has continually been hard to put a bracket around. Travel back 4 years ago to the Londoners debut EP 'Dissociations’. Many of the intricacy from then versus now remains. A focus on buoyancy that wraps itself around layers of club directed narratives, Kan pushes far beyond what we typically mean when talking about genres like dubstep, techno, footwork, and jungle. Fractions of these defining sounds can be heard within, but in many cases you’ll have to be looking for them.
For J-SHADOW, the approach to producing the kind of sounds as heard on ‘TEOAPF’ (The End Of All Physical Form) depends a lot on their current workflow.
‘If I have a certain stylistic mood in mind, I will look to shift the focus to layering the percussive items first and target the feel of a track towards an associated genre. On other occasions, I can start with fleshing out the soundscapes and concentrating on the emotive aspects like vocals, pads, or harmonies; affording more room for the percussive layers to soak in the latter end of the production. This can help shift the track away from more rigid, formulaic patterns, whilst still lending from some of the essences of say jungle or grime.’ - J-S
Defiant on not following the given structures set within rave and hard dance parameters, it is the album form in particular that allows Jason to display his true productional wit and mite across a host of different structures and energies. There’s the ‘subtle tension-building’ in weightless tracks like ‘Cloud Chamber’ and ‘Euxinia’, and then the warfare techno & breakbeat of ‘Arsu’ and title-track ‘TEOAPF’. The journey between these textures help to capture the symbolism of the J-SHADOW sound.
‘One of the most important aspects of my own productions is paying sufficient respect towards dynamics within a singular track as well as the album as a collective piece. Impact tracks can be difficult to pave - the attention needs to be averted to different ways of consolidating all the momentum. Then, carving out permutations of all the small details can still result in yielding a large overall effect on the dynamics. The intention of the album in part, still lies in creating a flow of disparate styles and ideas into something cohesive and sustained.’ - J-S
A swift-follow up from last years ‘Final Departure’ LP on Keysound, J-SHADOW once again flourishes in the freedoms of the album format. A path that many producers would not dare travel down, Kan describes the process as ‘arduous’ but feels the end-product can be more ‘compelling’ than the typical 4-5 track EP.
With the resulting levels of production on the album it becomes clearer as to why he would opt to create such a large body of work. Although aspects of the tracks were crafted within shorter windows, the likes of ‘Arsu’ have foundations from as far back as 5 years ago.
‘That was a track I could just never get finished! Sometimes it helps to return to unfinished productions with a renewed perspective. Nevertheless, I think that most of the time is painstakingly spent on flexing out the details of a track and it can take several weeks before everything sits right.’ - J-S
Kan has configured his dystopian club lore via a Make Noise 0-Coast and a Korg Minilogue (previously belonging to Craig from Mak & Pasteman) allowing for explorations in dense soundscapes which then could be ‘chopped & manipulated’ in software. ‘Tundra’ stands out as an explicit example of a track that’s had its holes poked for more charging glitch bass and kicks. This multi-dimensional production outlook has also transferred into J-SHADOW’s performances where he has leaned more into creating mixes on DAW.
‘Isolating specific elements of a track can open up worlds in crafting can open up worlds in crafting VIP type arrangements that would not be possible in standalone mixing. I enjoy filtering down productions to key references and finding ways to create a completely novel venture - it provides agency for story telling in how you want to present sound’ - J-S
A true technician, when you're informed of the attention to detail that Jason focuses into his work, it becomes less surprising to learn of his capabilities of creating the kind of sound on the album.
As for Sneaker Social Club, it’s yet another home run to add to their ever revered back-catalogue. On speaking to Jamie from the label about what it was that attracted them to J-SHADOW, his hi-tek and singular style that stood out.
‘You can hear the golden era influences of the past peppered throughout his sound. He’s dedicated to the craft of synthesis in his music and is one of the few producers who are really taking bigger steps forward in my opinion.’ - Jamie
Standing as one of the leading labels for modern UK dance and hardcore, the mindset has remained the same since the imprint’s inception in 2011.
‘Since then we’ve been putting out rave indebted and breakbeat records, long before it became largely popular! Generally though, I’m drawn to music of a darker feeling. There’s a lot of stuff forthcoming from us on that tip.’ - Jamie
J-SHADOW has truly blown us away with this one. A sonic scientist as described by Sneaker Social crew, ‘TEOAPF’ stands out as one of the most interesting bodies of work we’ve heard not just this year, but in some time altogether.