Stephen Jay is one of contemporary music’s best kept secrets.
Steve describes his music as “A lot of holes tied together with string”
Well perhaps not quite. To call this full of holes implies incompleteness.
“Chaos Clouds and Tongue” is far from that. Once again, this consummately talented poet and musician has created something wonderfully different; a flight of intellect and maturing philosophy framed in music so natural you can hear it breathe.
Stephen Jay’s music is an exotic blend of cultural influences drawn together under the unstoppable heartbeat of his compelling bass mastery. When the focus shifts and the path meanders, the warmth of the bass provides the direction back, maintaining an unpredictable but tight structure, yet allowing for interesting diversions along the way. There is always something new to be discovered here.
“So Do I Sadie” sets the direction of the musical flow like a personal manifesto, a slow, sexy dance of temptation offered but resisted.
“Arrow Of Time” is characterized by a discomfortingly insistent melody which bubbles up through the boiling magma of satisfying bass beneath.
“Half Step” is a gentle, slightly mournful and elegiac song, which provides a moment of reflection
“Now You Know” takes us on a march towards transformation within a tight cocoon of structured rhythm and melody.
“Whipoorwill” is like a cool well-spring, mid album, a little mysterious, a little intriguing, and very magical
“Here You Are” has a tentative intriguing quality of carefully balanced uncertainty
“The Bottom Of Heaven” never ceases to delight. There is nothing predictable here and yet it is easy just to enjoy listening as the intricate rhythms resolve themselves into pleasingly kaleidoscopic patterns
“Cold In The Sun” This is great! With its cool urban reggae feel, this song conveys a conspiratorial moment, like a whispered secret.
“Along One Line” is sparse and tight, and needs to be listened to at sternum thrumming levels for full eye-popping effect. This is a great piece of “world-music” influenced rock
“Cool Run” This is so laid back, but there is a lot going on in there. In this, as in all the songs there are so many rich layers of sounds and silences that you can’t help but be drawn into the rich sonic landscape.
“What I Want To Do” closes the album with characteristic cool spacey funk,
Overall this album flows very evenly. There are no odd juxtapositions or jarring moments as the music provides a gentle and logical progression.
I hesitate to draw any comparisons to this unique artist, but if I must I would say that anyone who enjoys “World Music” as a genre, or, to name artistes, Peter Gabriel or some of Sting’s solo work would be advised to give Stephen Jay a listen.
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