Jake Nicoll’s “Less Precious” New Album

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After his Borealis award-winning double album Two Things and Half of Nothing, Jake Nicoll wanted to make “something less precious and less intentional.”

While Entropy, the resulting piece, is obviously not as calculated as his two-piece masterwork, that doesn’t mean that you can’t feel his expert hand guiding it or connect to it. It might not be as intentional or as precious as his previous works, but that doesn’t mean this particular piece is soulless or unloved. Actually, It’s arguably the complete opposite.

It holds feeling; soundscapes escaping in a raw form just because they need to get out. And it might be a less polished or focused endeavour than the last couple of albums, but this is still Jake at his finest. It also exhibits careful attention to detail — likely less than his other works, but still more than the average record.

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Feedback and carefully constructed ambiance swirl in and out of existence. Random vocals are used as melodic percussion. Sounds slap back from nowhere. There’s detail in what might otherwise be distant or excessive. But it’s all there for a reason.

I’m with Jake when he says that “Train From Montreal” is his favourite track. It has to be. It’s got a slyness about it surrounded by layered vocals from Kira Sheppard. It’s meditative and lush.

An awesome listen for the creative mind — you get sucked into it, and get caught staring away as it feeds your imagination. To put it plainly, it’s not accessible to the person craving refined and structured pop rock – but it is accessible in the same way that you might crave emotive post-rock or moody rock electronica (Portishead, Radiohead).

Jake notes in a blurb on the bandcamp page, that he initially labelled this as his “instrumental” album. That’s not an afterthought — I think the inclusion of the perfectly placed (but rare) vocals came out of necessity. Not that he needed to conform to any particular standard, but instead because he needed to sing the words. Not a single lyric feels like filler — particularly on the beautiful self-titled track “Entropy” which ends the album. It reaches into a dreary bliss and pulls the album back out long enough to end with a Shins-ey style refrain that perfectly draws the curtains down.

It’s full of palettes of sound tossed together that explore the limits of what’s melodic. But they all still dock themselves on the shore of some bastardized pop ethic. It holds steady, finding comfort in the ambient storm. But even in the flurry of discordance, Nicoll needs it to sit in some ingenious melody. This marriage might actually work to bring to light an even brighter artistic streak. One that’s not forced, where the balance of personalities work to bolster the work as a whole.

It’s a work with subdued charm, but with surprising power behind it. It’s human in the same way as Spiritualized or A Silver Mt. Zion — control over automation and electronic elements help a single person’s musicality flourish in new, unexpected ways. Traditional rock instruments meet more unorthodox sounds to create interesting sounds. It’s a refreshing aside from one of the most legitimate artists that call St. John’s home

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Brad Pretty

Brad Pretty dresses like an old man.

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