Hailing from Vancouver, Jamison, aka Teen Daze, is one of the most stubbornly prolific laptop musicians to put out not one but two albums in 2012. His latest LP, The Inner Mansions, was released November 6 on Lefse. It is exactly the sort of dreamy, electronic, sparse sound that you’ve come to expect from chillwave complete with delicately processed vocals and the possibility of lulling you to sleep. Nevertheless, it is an unapologetically gorgeous piece of work and one that is better appreciated without considering the confines of its genre or how the chillwave brand has become passé in most circles. Clearly Jamison doesn’t care whether his music is trendy or not, so why should you?
The Inner Mansions seems to be an attempt to reach some sort of synthy, spiritual musical nirvana. As Jamison puts it, his goal was to “express the spirituality that runs so deeply through my life, through an album of ‘electronic music’” because he was so horrified by a negative review of his previous album, All Of Us, Together that claimed his music had “no soul.” The title of the album is named after a Christian book detailing the “’inner mansions’ of the soul, each one representing a different level of closeness in intimacy to God.”
Most of the songs have religious titles like “The Heart Of God,” a vocal-based track that’s somewhat reminiscent of a chorus of angels backed up by church-like sounds, and “Spirit,” which features a smattering of mystical ringing effects blended together with a dancier house beat. Some of the songs, such as “By Love,” with its chirping bird samples and shimmering beats, sound like they’ve been put together using samples from some nature sound effect CD intended to relax you at an aromatherapy spa. “Union,” featuring Frankie Rose, is more fast-paced, almost rock-like at the beginning and probably the only song with easily decipherable lyrics.
While The Inner Mansions doesn’t stray too far from previous work, it does have the sort of celestial, otherworldly quality to it that I think Jamison was trying to achieve. And, perhaps most importantly for its creator, it has a soul.