- A restless take on jazz, funk and fusion in the Brainfeeder mould.
- After releasing his 2014 full-length, Joined Ends, Oliver Johnson, AKA Dorian Concept, decided to unlearn everything he knew about making music. That record capped a prolific run of EPs and collaborations that found him flitting between precise pointillism and hyped-up takes on G-funk, while also playing keyboards in Flying Lotus's touring band and working on Cosmogramma. In the years since, Johnson forced himself to develop new ways of thinking and working. He rebuilt his creative process around live instrumentation inspired by jazz, fusion, prog and funk, as well as an intense process of digital editing. The result is The Nature Of Imitation, his most expansive, complex and personable record to date.
The opening track, "Promises," bursts into being with a brassy introduction rippling with a wah-driven bassline. At this point, the LP echoes several other key Brainfeeder artists: the restlessness of Flying Lotus, the free-floating jazz of Kamasi Washington, the sad-dude cartoonishness of Thundercat. But Johnson quickly establishes the album as distinctly his own. The scenes he sets move rapidly. His keyboards are the foundation, with the rest of the music shapeshifting around their pastel tones.
Johnson says The Nature Of Imitation is meant to play on our short attention spans, Western culture's retreat into subjectivity and "cumulative error." But for all its lofty intentions and complex construction, it is a remarkably easy listen. "J Buyers" winds up slowly, then flings itself open with a big-hearted beat whose joy lingers long after the track turns mellow. "E13"'s long, skronky synth solo is tamed by a clap-along hip-hop beat. These songs are occasionally touched by a soulful melancholy, connecting them to what Johnson called the "chamber music" of Joined Ends. But their animating spirit is a bright, brash exuberance and a giddy sense of freedom.
02. Angel Shark
03. J Buyers
04. A Mother's Lament
05. No Time Not Mine
07. Self Similarity
10. The Space
11. You Give & Give