Friday, January 27, 2017

J-Dead Headspace EP Review

You may know J-Dead as 'Glitch' or simply Jake from the  Birmingham based Grimecore outfit Crime and punishment 2011.  You will know of them if you have read this blog before as I have been covering their shows extensively over the past year. Shortly before announcing his decision to leave the group Jake released his first solo EP. Entitled Headspace.
The shows he has performed as J-Dead have been sombre affairs. While CPK shows have been notable for the screaming, jumping and self injuring antics of Joey sniper and Dan Carter. Jake has always been the slightly quieter and thoughtful member. With this new project he is going for more of a spoken word style, which can be compared to the storytelling style of UK rappers such as Kate Tempest, Loyle Carner or Roots Manuva.
The opening track 'Dreamer' sets the tone with it's sparse piano sampling production, with elements of dubstep style drops, courtesy of Sam Jewson who produced the whole EP. Lyrically the song  is a more thoughtful look at relationships and the paranoia as well as mistrust that goes with them.  Where the protagonist seems unsure as to whether his girlfriend is having an affair or whether he is simply over thinking and over analysing their relationship.
Track two 'In The Dark' is in a much different style. The backing track consists of violin and lightly strummed acoustic guitars, which play a folk style reworking of The XX's song 'Shelter'. J-Dead reworks his own verses from Crime and Punishment 2011's song 'There's a reason storms are named after people. While the bleak story of domestic abuse is roughly the same, the backing track actually contrasts with the more sombre lyrics. The overall mood is more hopeful than the misery of the CPK original. On this cut J-Dead declares that 'He's trying to be a role model for the other children who suffer from similar troubles'. With songs like this J-Dead is tacking issues such as depression and abuse head on. 
Headspace is one of the most openly personal tracks Jake has penned so far. For the first half of the song, Jake narrates his teenage years over a sparse backing of piano and drums. The song is a discussion with himself about how he came to terms with man hood after his dad leaving him and the bullying, relationship problems with girls and how he has changed over the 10 years since then. The song covers a lot of the things that have happened to him over the past decade, and the mental health issues that he currently deals with. Lines such as 'my psyche's delivering me death threats' are particularly telling. Jake's rapping is conversational and his voice cracks under the weight of the story he is telling. Unfortunately the production seems to let the lyrical side of the song down, with a barrage of synth sounds that almost drown out Jake's voice appearing halfway through. 
The real tear-jerker of the EP and all of Jake's live sets is the final track here, 'I'll See You in the morning'. Thankfully the guitar and drum based backdrop for this song suit the lyrics a lot better. While the song doesn't go into great detail about what exactly happened, Jake focusses on what he was doing and feeling on the last night he saw his dad. Jake is not the sort of writer who clouds his thoughts in metaphors, so while it isn't an easy listen, it is cathartic and intensely personal. Compared to the versions I have heard live, it is much faster, and fleshed out musically, but the overall power of the song has not been diminished. 


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