When it comes to cinematic trends, we live in the Avatar era. Contemporary movies rely heavily on effects, couched and encumbered by advances in rapidly expanding technologies. Ask your stoner buddy what they thought of Avatar, and they’ll almost certainly respond with, “OH SHIT IT WAS EPIC.” If you talk to a movie buff, however, Avatar usually gets the same pejorative, “it was cool to look at, but the story was really, really cliché.” To an extent, modern music has taken a parallel course; but over here at IYS, we don’t get swept away by stoner exuberance. Tokimonsta walks a fine line between aesthetics and substance, but ultimately proves to be more than just a DJ doling out cheap, trippy thrills.
Tokimonsta, aka Jennifer Lee, keeps an eye towards texture and doesn’t let beats run amok. Opener “Fallen Arches” blooms into a tribal, aquatic, and laid-back jam, anchored by piano and arpeggio synth lines. It is one of the five songs, out of seven, to not feature vocals. I respect the way Lee goes about her project--in the end, this is about her being a DJ, yet she steps aside and lets Gavin Turek have the mic for a couple of songs. Turek’s cameo saves the album from voiceless monotony. “Little Pleasures” is similarly aquatic, with liquidy rhythms not unlike Animal Collective, if they took up R&B.
Lee, unlike many of the wave of DJ/dubsteppers/producers flooding the music scene, doesn’t attempt to beat listeners in the face with pounding rhythms and haywire electronics. There’s a texture and aesthetic quality to Lee’s work that puts her in the upper echelon of artists. Her only misstep in the album is on “Moving Forward”, when she harshens the melody and clutters the percussive qualities in the music, making the song suffer a lack of direction that other Creature Dreams tracks thrive on. Creature Dreams, out on vinyl May 24th, is a nice addition to the genre, and it’s refreshing to hear electronics that maintain a distinct and unique texture throughout an album’s playtime.
1. Fallen Arches
2. Little Pleasures (FT. Gavin Turek)
3. Bright Shadows
4. Moving Forward
5. Stigmatizing Sex
6. Darkest (Dim) (FT. Gavin Turek)
7. Day Job