Straight outta Nashville, TN, Austin Wilkinson and Elvis Craig might be working within “Music City USA,” but without the requisite geetars. Now some may ball their fists into little fury nuggets at even the inkling of such blasphemy, but only if they haven’t yet been seduced by the Jensen Sportag’s rippling sine waves (and we’ll assume they haven’t been paying attention to the bombardment of chilled and distilled synthy R&B out there, even bordering Nashville).
Stealth Of Days is Jensen Sportag’s first full-length, and the follow up to 2011 EP Pure Wet as well as a steady stream of singles. Delicate as diaphanous gauze, but with a seductively thumping heart, opening track Rain Code has been subsequently remixed by Austrian synthesizer master Fennesz, giving the already sublime track some extra cachet. With meticulous detail to its upwardly gliding pitches, it’s one of the album’s strongest tracks. That’s immediately followed by Six Senses, which adds a jumpy tincture of colorful beats and drums to Jensen Sportag’s signature sound of smoothness.
Bellz, an early single of layered vocals and lightly thumping electro-drum circles, could have jumped out of 1987 and the height of smooth synths. But this isn’t a soundtrack for those hyperbolic days of excess. It’s a match to Jensen Sportag’s futuristic visual chiaroscuro, colorful and similarly sinister.
Signed to the three-year old label Cascine (a semi-related offshoot of Swedish cult label, Service), Wilkinson and Craig have been described by label owner Jeff Bratton as “total jokers.” But Stealth Of Days is a tacitly sobering experience. It’s in the well-planned aesthetics that the band strikes a nice balance, but still walks the tightrope of high-brow pretensions—such coolness can easily transfer to chilliness, as dissonant can quickly become distant. But for now it’s more than worth it to enjoy the present: a series of relaxing and well-produced tracks. Perhaps we’ll save the playfulness for the next go-round.