Adult Jazz’s debut LP, Gist Is, is not at all about the gist. There’s nothing general or broad here; there’s no one main point. The album is an impeccably belabored, precise work, each chord and vocal flux acting as a pin point on a map defined by strict boundaries. But Gist Is is not some mass-produced product of capital and industry. The album strongly suggests the word “perfection” because of its edgeless, machine-like instrumentation, but it’s also so uniquely strange, it shies away from cold flawlessness.
Although Gist Is is only nine tracks long, it’s a big nine tracks, with more than half clocking in past the five-minute mark. Album opener Hum is a cool seven minutes, sounding more like a self-contained symphony than just one piece of a larger work. Am Gone is the album’s most immediate track, recalling the Dirty Projectors with scrubbed-clean guitar slaps, wild falsettos and organic, unsettled percussive noodling. Each track moves at its own unpredictable, unlaced pace. Springful brings gospel-esque vocals to clattering, experimental knife-sharpening, pot-banging noise. Pigeon Skulls could be three songs at once; the concave percussion is at odds with sporadic guitar twangs and vocalist Harry Burgess’ soft, tongue-y coos. And yet, everything sounds like it’s exactly in the right place.

There’s so much happening over the course of the album, the listening experience becomes calculated. Although you only need to listen to the first 30 seconds of Donne Tonne to realize that Burgess is using language as an instrument, constantly stretching and kneading his words, you’ll need to listen to the album a few times to pick up on its more subtle paranoid ticks. Donne Tonne is an exercise in vocal meandering cut short by instrumental hiccups; Idiot Mantra plays with stereo shifts and sitar-like string plucks; Be A Girl nestles up against snappy pop before jerking away from it with syncopated, doctored drumming.
Gist Is is an academic album—and not just because it features a song named after early 17th century poet John Donne. The songs are autonomously cumulative, opening with minimal, lopsided strokes and layering in sounds until the track becomes a multi-dimensional experience. It’s good right away, but it doesn’t make sense until later. Gist Is might take patience, but it pays off.