It’s safe to say Canadian-born house producer Jacques Greene has cultivated a signature sound for himself. With suitably danceable drums, block-colour chord progressions and expertly spliced R&B vocals, his are the type of tracks that are unleashed when you want to inject a dose of emotion on the dance floor.
After six EPs, Feel Infinite is the first full-length by Greene and is released on Scottish label LuckyMe – a label not only responsible for the likes of hip-hop heavyweights Hudson Mohawke and Cashmere Cat, but also one that has released almost all of Greene’s work up to this point. It only feels right, then, that they would be behind the dropping of his first LP.
Albums from club artists can be problematic. Historically, producers have taken either the ‘club track after club track’ option which plays like a set of DJ tools; or they have used the LP as a platform to try out more experimental approaches to music-making. Greene opts for the former in Feel Infinite, but his production has enough meat to it to avoid feeling like you’re being hit over the head repeatedly by kick drums in its eleven-track length.
The album’s prelude – Fall – emphasises and loops the sound of an exhaling breath. Over this are the pitched-up and echoey vocals we catch glimpses of; there are drums which shift in and out of the mix; a muffled synth bass line. It feels as though we’re outside, catching hints of what is happening within.
As we step into the club, everything comes into focus for the album’s title track. Bold, hypnotic melodies pivot on the spot and writhe around each other before a devastating two-step drum beat drops.
The track sets the tone for the rest of the album and, indeed, consolidates the style we’ve come to know from Jacques Greene over the years. To Say adopts a harder house style beat, with a simplicity that tugs the heart strings and wavey, hip-hop leaning synths that are reminiscent of fellow Canadians PARTYNEXTDOOR and Majid Jordan. Sure, it’s not new ground the Montreal-based producer is treading, but he does it so well that it’s hard to begrudge him.
The album manages to strike a very good balance between the more tranquil, introspective tracks such as Dundas Collapse and True – featuring real-life vocals from How To Dress Well – and dance floor numbers like 4×4 banger I Won’t Judge and Real Time, which loops and glitches like a disco track stuck on a record player.
In all of Greene’s production, you get a sense of things reaching its outer limits; machines on the verge of malfunction. Words from incorporeal voices chatter unevenly until they reach a resolution, sustained organ chords begin to feedback; propagate before receding, blipping synths distort to tipping point until they fall back in line.
You Can’t Deny – a single prior to Feel Infinite’s release – judders and ticks on the spot like a broken conveyor belt. The same vocal, pitched-up and pitched-down, repeat the same command to each other like a machine-age duet. It’s also worth mentioning here the brilliant artwork that has accompanied promotion for this album – but I suppose what more can you expect from a label that was set up by a pair of art students?
There is also a sort of druggy haze shrouding the album – you can imagine the bold colours flashing through the dry ice; the silhouettes of dancing figures never quite in sharp focus. The closing track, You See All My Light, starts from a small vocal fragment and evolves into a bleary, strobing mess. The lack of any real beat underneath gives the album’s epilogue a come-down quality as the synths pound softly like your head. Maybe it’s time to go home.
The album’s title – possibly a nod to the quote from Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower – encapsulates the emotion that so many aim for in the club. Greene himself has spent a huge portion of his career behind the decks in cities around the world, and Feel Infinite plays like someone trying to capture the fuggy elation of a room full of people and sweat and lights and sound. It also plays like someone who, in a career spanning since 2010, knows exactly what will make people move.
In 2017, there is now a whole hoard of Soundcloud producers who have adopted the wavey, hip-hop influenced house style, some of which have made a name for themselves. Feel Infinite, Jacques Greene’s first album in a seven-year career, proves he is still the original and best.
Feel Infinite is out now on LuckyMe records.
Image: Mathieu Fortin