Jatoma: Jatoma (Kompakt)
Jatoma is another oddball signing to Kompakt that is indicative of the label’s gradual shift in focus over the last few years, coming hot on the heels of the stellar Walls album the label released in the spring. The crossover potential of Jatoma makes up for some of the missteps in the last couple of installments in the label’s typically picture-perfect Total compilation series (an annual document of the label’s music, containing previously released singles and exclusive material). Much of the music on Jatoma’s self-titled debut sounds far removed from the pristine techno of Kompakt’s Speicher series or veterans like Jörg Burger, Jürgen Paape or Michael Mayer. In fact it is the organic quality of these tracks that make it one of the more refreshing things to come out of the Kompakt stable in some time. The rhythm tracks don’t have the punchy clarity of digital computer music like one might expect, but rather a looser, more acoustic sound (despite being electronic still). A lot of the sounds come across as broad, gestural swirls rather than distinct sequencing, recalling the human touch of Four Tet and his melange of acoustic percussion sounds, or the more found-sound elements of Pantha du Prince. Many of the synths also sound more like plucked strings or guitars than synth leads. The result of all of these in combination is more akin to Animal Collective by way of Köln than the streamlined sounds that usually come forth from the label. Some of the sounds veer further toward traditional territory than others; “Durian” has open-fifth syncopated stabs that loosely align with tech house norms, but its sounds still anchor it in the Jatoma palette. “Wood Face” is a nice organic crescendo of drones, synths and rollicking acoustic percussion, straddling worlds with a certain kind of grace. Only occasionally does their sound lose me, like in the semi-aimless meandering melody of “Helix” (although it snaps into a looped groove nicely, eventually) or the unnecessary vocoder found in “Paper Lights,” but these are minor complaints. Overall it’s a pretty fresh take on the European minimal paradigm, a healthy combination of acoustic sounds, organic treatments and tight sequencing.