Someone stole a music box and sent it into space.
Independent musician Jeads has come up with an excellent concept for his new album ‘Under the Veneer’. The entire album centres around a rusty old music box that has been frozen in time in a snowy landscape. It sounds a bit barmy but under the expert production of Jeads, it works perfectly.
Across the albums 10 tracks, the music box is front and centre. It has its own melodies to sing and it has a rich tone to it. The music box is never alone though. Jeads creates relaxed downtempo tracks that remind me of recent Bonobo and the lighter side of Four Tet and Bibio. Synths drench each track in a different way but are omnipresent. In some tracks like ‘Prelude to the Fall’, things have a cyberpunk vibe and feel dark. Elsewhere ‘Morning Lull’ is a dreamy waltz that lazily shuffles through.
What binds all the tracks together, aside from the box, is the heavy use of reverb to create depth of sound. Each track has a thick bass that bursts through all the rhythmic tunes. The beats themselves are not usually quick but each snare has gravitas to it. Each kick drum pulses at full beans. It makes the entire album sound satisfying and that is all down to production.
One of the most curious things about the album is how it feels like a space journey. I love the backstory of the music box being frozen in time but the retro-future synths evoke more of a distant space mission vibe to me. I think I’ve watched too much sci-fi! That being said the title track and ‘Tetradic Sea’ could easily score some epic movie moments with how they build up to exciting and cinematic final choruses. Jeads doesn’t often go into his dramatic gear but when he does, it gives the listener an emboldened heart.
‘Under the Veneer’ is the true definition of a hidden gem. Jeads has quietly created a masterful selection of music that will only grow with you over time. Each time I come back to listen to the album, I find new things to enjoy and travel with. Sidenote -it is also superb as a soundtrack for city-building games. Anyone with an interest in music boxes, electronica and the chill-out scene would do well to give this release a whirl.