For over a half decade, I’ve been nursing an enormous crush a writer’s admiration for Ian Cohen over at Pitchfork. (Like seriously, where does this guy live so we can discuss how much our best-of lists overlap?) During my research on British Columbian Lost Boy Teen Daze, I stumbled across Cohen’s 2012 review of Jamison No-surname’s debut record, one of two Teen Daze reviews on Pitchfork. Two years later, Cohen’s lede is still applicable:
“Hey, have you heard of this guy Teen Daze?” This is how a friend began an iChat conversation with me late last year and, short answer, “no.” A longer answer would’ve been one that was likely shared by just about anyone keeping up with prevailing internet trends ca. November 2011: “No, I haven’t. But do I really need to actually hear Teen Daze to know exactly what it sounds like?” The answer to that question was likely “no” as well, since if you go to the young British Columbian’s watercolor-splashed Bandcamp page, you could find EPs with titles such as My Bedroom Floor, Four More Years and, I shit you not, Beach Dreams.
A poignant and prolific artist, Jamison bears, in music, a behavioral resemblance to a wild deer in the woods: silent and traceless, unless you know where to look. When you find him, you know you’ve unearthed a rare mineral.
Teen Daze is one that sparkles quietly, and brilliantly.
Now 28 years young (give or take), Jamison resides beneath Cheam Peak in Fraser Valley, BC; this vast, picturesque landscape no doubt contributes to the timelessness and lush quality of the Teen Daze sound — Glacier (2011) was literally written and produced beneath a glacier.
Like the city before its waking hours or a spacecraft drifting in orbit, A World Away (out January 13) builds up almost frustratingly and doesn’t peak, but rather simmers out. If it’s anything like Jamison’s countless other EPs, the release holds a grab-bag collection of six musical theses, each described fairly accurately by its title.
The buildup on “Sun Burst” is infuriating, but when its motif enters for the first time at 2:40 it is understood that the first 160 seconds of the track did not go to waste. Overwhelmingly uplifting, this opening track is one to do a morning yoga routine to, or the background audio of a twilight lifting sunrise from dawn after an insomnious night. Confirming A World Away as a grab-bag, the track that ensues sans any attempt at a smooth transition is a faster-paced, percussive synth wind tunnel. Here, on “Another Night,” we observe a sense of urgency somewhat unusual of Teen Daze — a fascinating sort of unusual.
The album lead — “Reykjavik, 2015” — is a piano-based ballad that washes over its audience with shimmery synth waves, its heartbeat steadfast and augmented by handclaps mid-tune.
Short of reviewing each individual track, I’ll say that “Desert” is another track that possesses a dominant motif, while cool-down/exit music “I Feel God in the Water” applies its jazzy chord progressions rather loosely.
With his latest development, Teen Daze successfully creates and explores six different electronic constructs from a stylistic root in downtempo post-rock. Interestingly enough, these tracks dig deeper into that root, making use of organic instruments (or perhaps electronic indices of these instruments). Simply put, if you have yet to find yourself at the base of a sunlit snowcapped mountain, listen to A World Away for now, and drive yourself to the nearest one when given the opportunity.
Article by Joanna Jiang