Jvox has had a varied career so far. Whilst for the most part of the nineties he was working away with the traditional American styles of electronica, it is really only since 2001 that he has found a space to put his ideas down. His first two albums were patchy, minimal takes on house and instrumental hip hop – rife with the cliches of an inexperienced producer, but with QED he has attempted something more personal and lush, and for that it’s an interesting mix.
It has long been a tradition for artists to try and capture the dichotomies in the environment of New York City, but Jvox treads that line constantly and respectfully on this album. A mixture of generous jazz bass lines, echoed subway-recorded vocal snippets, synthesised environmental sounds and varying tempos dominate his take on the metropolis that he comes from, and is making his music in. The opening two tracks are warmly rife with the respect to the jazz and blues that the city’s bars are famous for, but all the while having percussion and melody lines that suggest squealing breaks of trains, water dripping in dark alleys, and endless flights of stairs. The erratic, paranoid acid of ‘Hog’ adds the first very sinister element to the album, and the cut up vocals of ‘Sweetbaby’ counterpoint the lullaby like melody with an equally anxious vibe. Indeed it is this agenda that Jvox is aiming to push on QED, and over the 12 tracks this conclusion is drawn fully.
However, it is a bit of a shame the paranoid bleakness of mundane urbanity comes through so often. There is a definite cuteness to some of sounds – bleeps and hums over jazz guitar, time stretched warning messages, and some playful keys – too often the nasty ticks, kicks and scrapes come close to counterpointing, but miss the mark somewhat. And whilst the environmental samples are ever present – by the end of the album you have heard rain, showers, eavesdropped on neighbours, heard children playing, heard faint alarms and even some birds calling, Jvox hasn’t made an entirely captivating album.
It is good to note that the last half (that does draw quite heavily on the works of DJ Spooky) is a tad more captivating – the tempo fluctuates more often, and the jazz/experimental pairing comes out more – ‘Murder’ and ‘Kytotog’ being rather solid in their progressions – overall QED gives a snapshot of a confusing urban environment, but not that much more.