A jolting spell into the prenatal state
Residing in Canada, No Joy is a duo shoegaze project, of which both members Jasamine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd occupy. Yet, now it has shrunk to a solo project under the aegis of frontwoman Jasamine White-Gluz and she’s releasing the first full-length LP under this moniker in five years. No Joy’s Motherhood is “not a departure from No Joy’s early shoegaze,” as the bio proclaims on her bandcamp page, “but a stylistically omnivorous expansion that ekes into trip hop, trance and nu-metal.” Let’s test that.
The album opens with “Birthmark,” in media res. It abruptly blasts out of the void of silence before people hit play. There are these striking, aggressive and complex drum slaps, and her mystical singing exudes through as these rising delay-drenched synth notes encircle people’s minds, beckoning them into a trance. It has a panoramic, surrealistic sound, like some malleable substance undulating within empyrean dimensions. So that shoegaze is firmly fixed and not going anywhere in this album, off the first impression. It’s like peeking into that platonic idea plane and watching what can’t compute in one’s mind, utterly uncomprehending everything.
Next comes “Dream Rats.” The title is a fitting continuation of what was happening sonically in the last, so far everything subscribes to the oneiric aesthetic being formed here, and it works magnificently. Here, though, it picks up pace, as if this is the second movement and it’s more upbeat and treble-based, more ear-piercing. That percussion line still remains too. Only this time it’s at a supersonic velocity, as if it’s compounding speed in orbital locomotion, circling and overlapping preexisting concentric circles in a centrifugal vector. It evokes an image of something like vociferous winds howling all around an ancient temple, prophetically whispering of some cosmic fate that’s in direct proportion to the very inclement state of what the weather is setting forth, like the weather is a karmic agent to punish impiety by wreaking chaos.
Track four, “Four,” (haha) deploys another orbital sound, but this time it’s like the likes of a droning helicopter blade spinning in slo-mo (like those scenes in war movies), in gradual descent. Then, it begins accumulating speed in a crescendo until it ejaculates at the acme into, rather unexpectedly, but delightfully, a plateau of some really groovy kind of funk. Something like an R&B/funk quilt work wherein these little TV dialogue interjections sneak their way in, lending it a sort of multi-media vibe. It then develops into this doom-metal scene by the aid of a very ominous guitar and thundering drum-beats, like something apocalyptically sputtering out of control. All this in a single track.
Something worth mentioning, actually, something impossible to overlook, but stark in listener’s faces, is White-Gluz’s voice. It’s at the peak of its ability in “Happy Bleeding,” wherein she exercises these diaphanous vocals that seem to be sent down aerially, in sweeps as wide as radio waves. The lyrics however are a little muddied what with all the periphery, and this is probably intentionally done, to add to the effect of the gauziness of the whole aesthetic. Only until after that sexy, little tactful riff to lead out the song do people realize that her music is prone to tergiversate just as much as her lyrics.
Other quirks in the LP are as follows. There is a kind of harlequin melody in “Fish,” but done through overdriven guitar, so there’s your fill of anachronism. The tone of the guitar in track eight, “Signal Lights,” begs to be compared to what hose-spray sounds like against a taut tarp. And, the last track (“Kidder”) is reminiscent of Tame Impala’s signature (and, rapturous) apotheoses.
All in all, No Joy is up to something in Motherhood. Maybe she’s channeling that primordial Big Bang frequency, maybe it’s an inquiry into the latent creative power of motherhood itself or maybe it’s just obscurity for obscurity’s sake. Whatever it is really, one can only speculate. It’s one of those rare albums people must continually come back to, to discover more upon each successive listen; one of those dense, multifarious pieces that takes several listens for it to unravel. And then people will still find themselves scratching their head, as it enshrouds itself into an even deeper mystery. So, basically, it has to be successful.