NYC's inverted pop mainstay James K returns, dislodging shoegaze, ambient, power electronics and narcotic techno masonry, rebuilding songs from the rubble. RIYL Eartheater, MBV, Klein, Pharmakon, Mica Levi.
Jamie Krasner's 2016 debut "PET" impressed because the NYC artist was able to successfully deconstruct pop forms without losing the elements that drew us to those sounds in the first place. She finishes the sentence on "Random Girl", a torched set of sketches written between 2014 and 2018 that sound simultaneously as intense as My Bloody Valentine or the Cocteau Twins and as searing as Ramleh or Pharmakon. The album fits right in over at Anthony Naples and Jenny Slattery's Incienso imprint alongside queasy, genre-bucking tomes from DJ Python and Huerco S. And while Krasner's compositions aren't as tied to dance music logic as her peers, there's a clear desire to challenge convention.
Her philosophy is laid bare on 'alright', a defiant layering of echoed-out no-wave vocals, reversed guitar, rhythmic synth donks and serrated DIY noise. Krasner hails from New England's de-facto noise capital Providence, and there's still a trace of the city's basement scene in her tape-distorted productions, but there's just as much of a nod to New York's legendary Downtown era. In grappling with concepts of girlhood infantilization, Krasner draws similar conclusions as her punk forebears, issuing correctives that don't diminish femininity but build out its remit. 'Eiv Mude' fades in a Stott-strength beatbox, while Krasner allows her vocals to gyrate around each kick like a dancer as the sun peeks into the club after a long night. In another universe, you might call it shoegaze - the overwhelming mood chimes with Slowdive and Lush at their most prescient - but Krasner doesn't trip into empty nostalgia. Her booming kicks are just as much a reference to sweaty Unter parties as they are Seefeel, and the steam-powered hats play trap's rattling call-to-action against the belched-out acidic rattle of Suicide in the '80s.
'Life of a Fly' is a more open My Bloody Valentine nod, all jagged guitar sludge, reverb and coo-ing celestial vocals. Krasner's not simply making a case for art that centers girlhood in 2022, but pointing to recent historical attempts at doing the same exact thing - attempts that were often met (at the time) with confusion and scorn. Drew McDowall hops in for an assist on the extended 'Marketa' (which we wanna hope is a reference to ace Czech Medieval epic "Marketa Lazarová"), adding precarious drones to Krasner's dissociated vocals and rhythmic clangs, while Stefan Maier steps up on 'Don't Walk on the Dunes' and 'Teen Cruelty', two of the album's most uncompromising, stifling soundscapes.
A disquieting patchwork of ideas, genres and signals, "Random Girl" is a celebration of Krasner's cohesive and freeform expression. Everything's held together by the clarity of her vision - it's a record that succeeds where many have failed.