Music News

Jel

The smoggy synths and heavy beats that permeate the music of Anticon acts Subtle and Themselves can be traced to Jel, the DJ and sampler artist who has just released his second long-player. Soft Money boasts contributions from labelmates as well as a couple of guest raps — including Poor Righteous Teachers' Wise Intelligent rhyming the usual clichés about the deceitful nature of Bush's "weapons of mass distraction." The album also has a sense of humor: Witness Jel's own stoned rap about car commercials or the final cut, "Chipmunk Technique," a welcome undie jab against Kanye West. But at heart, Jel's songs pull you in with their gray, grim synth textures, a kind of sedative pall that's compelling in the right doses, as on the meditative penultimate track, "Nice Last." It's a heavy sound, but Jel knows how to give it a light touch.

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Chris Dahlen