Now that we're a decade removed from the '90s electronica boom, electronic artists seem free to create ear-pleasing fusions without the pressure to innovate. Case in point, Manchester-via-L.A.'s Dylan Nathan, AKA Jega. Returning to the scene with Variance, a sprawling new double-album (on u-Ziq's Planet Mu label) that was nine years in the making, Jega's programming touch shows the natural ease of an artist who isn't self-conscious about his musical vocabulary. Whether that has any bearing on how deeply electronica has sunken into the culture at large is up for debate, but Variance is so smoothly executed it's easy to miss how masterful Jega is at extracting brilliant melodies from his soundscapes. His fondness for breakbeats aside, at its most expansive Jega's latest work evokes images of one-time labelmates Boards Of Canada re-interpreting the Blade Runner soundtrack. Which is to say that Variance is a work of considerable dramatic beauty and power, but ultimately shaped by Jega's signature sense of discretion.
Wed., Aug. 12, 9 p.m., 2009