Double Haze'd: Jay Haze epic new artist album Love & Beyond

Words by: Cila Warncke
Posted: 30/4/08 16:37

Here's something you don't see every day: a proper double-CD album from an electronic artist. None of that getting in a few mates to throw together enough remixes for a second disc - Love & Beyond is the real deal, an avalanche of new music that rightly claims to show Jay Haze as you've never seen him before.

It is an effort as sprawling and occasionally disjointed as Haze himself. But, for all the ground it covers, Love & Beyond never justifies the luxury of the format. The first CD, "Vocal" is devoted entirely to woozy, down-tempo soul/funk/hip-pop hybrids that are barely recognizable as the work of a man we're more accustomed to seeing stirring up clubs with crunching minimal techno. Don't Tease Me, for example, sounds like Justin Timberlake on Qualuudes (an enjoyable idea on at least two levels) while the aptly-titled Prince Of Spades evokes the funky vocal pop of the titular artist. Some of the tracks (Floating Away) have more recognizably electronic elements but for the most part this is smoked-out lounge music that drifts deeper into the fug the longer it goes on. Cocktail is the climax, if you will, of the set, featuring some horrifically irritating trumpet effects in the place of rude words. I've always been of the opinion if you're going to talk dirty you should just spit it out; euphemistic studio gimmicks simply annoy. From there, the album slides into a post-coital slumber, only relieved by the unexpectedly jerky, old-school hip hop vocal of closer Madhouse.

"Instrumental" CD two is where the loping pace and peculiar fixation on handclaps starts to wear. The variety of vocal stylings on side one (soul, funk, hip hop) breaks up the monotony of the music but there's no such relief here. Tracks like Bring Your Love and Cheese Flamingo verge on demo territory. They don't do enough to warrant a place on an album. And again, the pace is languid, like neither the artist nor the music has a particular sense of urgency about the project. There is the odd burst of energy - Rocket For Sale breaks out some nice, squelchy beats over a noodly jazz backdrop and Michel Ho co-produces on the groovy piano-jam Awakening - but by and large this is music to get stoned to.

Which, if that was the point (and given Jay's embrace of a laidback lifestyle it might well be) then it's job done. But sober, it goes on far too long. I suspect there is more to this than music though. Haze is as eccentric as he is gifted and fucking with people's expectations is very much in character. However, there's a difference between proving a point and making a great record. Haze has accomplished the former (you won't leave questioning his ability, versatility or unconventionality) but he's fallen short of the later. With rigorous editing this could have been a very good conventional album. I suspect that's the last thing Jay wants.  


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