Story by: Anand Harsh
Photo by: John Verwey
The intrinsic fallacy of the “tortured artist” is our utter fascination and romanticization of the particularly tragic figures. It's a skewed sample size, and for every Gram Parsons splayed out in a Joshua Tree motel room, there's a Bob Ross joyfully sponging happy little trees onto his canvas and encouraging his fellow artists to do the same.
When we last left Jasper Reeder, it seemed he was on the upswing from a particulary bad few year, and Broken Moon was not the rope by which he was hanging, but pulling himself out of the hole. Now just over two years on, Hideous Mask arrives on the scene, and is likewise heralded by his contemporaries, but without the agony attached. Cautiously, I pose the thought... NastyNasty might be... a happy little tree.
Signed by Mt. Olympus' own (or if you prefer an American to a Greek analogy, certainly on our Mt. Rushmore of DJ'ing icons) DJ Shadow to his Liquid Amber label for a November 2 release, it would seem that Reeder now has his own family. Unlike those of blood or marriage, the sonic disciples NastyNasty has bred, like Bleep Bloop, Noer The Boy, Ethan Glass, and PROKO, treat him as an equal, a colleague, and as a friend. Sonically, his scorched earth approach finds endlessly accessible audiences, thanks in no small part to the spread of his gospel, and the acceleration of taste among the scene.
Which brings us to the final single before the release of Hideous Mask, “Aether Nah.” While the stunted, stuttering hallmark of NastyNasty's sound still evokes singed and wrent circuitry, the mood is playful. Fun and fancy free, if you will. Reeder is working through something with the album, as is typically true of his releases, but what it is seems more about the pursuit of the next sound and less about his own personal demons.
I'm not Jasper's therapist. I don't purport to know what is going on in his life, or behind his own mask. But I don't think it's wise to discount finding your own tribe, especially in an industry and line of work that can feel so lonesome. Following a release party last week at Wormhole, his Northern California home base, which brought out a gaggle of friends, NastyNasty will next be amongst is people December 1 in Atlanta, Georgia at Aisle 5 with Huxley Anne.
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