Vancouver’s most literate Chillwave artist Teen Daze, the solo project of producer Jamison, has had its most stressful year yet in 2012. Having released its debut album All of Us only to be received with moderate reviews, Jamison spent the past summer recording his sophomore LP The Inner Mansions, his most personal project yet. Drawing inspiration from the literary work A Life of Prayer by St. Teresa of Avila, The Inner Mansions delves into the artist’s psyche, Jamison explains that he hopes to create an album of “computer music with soul.”
The attempt to distance himself from the robotic feel of electronic music found on his debut record can be heard on every track of The Inner Mansions. The pair of “Garden” tracks posses an ambient sensation of spirituality, as if Jamison has opened the chambers of his mind and soul for all to see. “By Love” follows this exploration of blending humanistic familiarity with computer-based electronica music by incorporating gorgeous cascades of harp string-plucked arpeggios, relaxing the listener to a state of calming bliss with instrumentation associated with the human touch. Standing out among tracks is “Union,” a rock-oriented duet with garage rocker Frankie Rose. The fast-paced, distorted guitar intro of the track reawakens the listener from the cotton candy-wonderland state of mind brought on by the first half of the album, only to coax the listener back to entrancement with Jamison’s hazy vocals on the latter half of the track. Closing the album with a bonus track cover of Brian Eno’s “Always Returning,” the instrumental song is inundated with personal sentiment. The slow, bittersweet string melody pervading the track serves as the final personal statement from Jamison to the listener: laying his troubles out to the listener, letting his audience know what he will struggle with for now.
While the album’s tracks are not inundated with short essays-worth of lyrics, with the inclusion of several instrumental tracks, Jamison manages to produce effective messages with the choice words he includes. The track “Divided Loyalties” serves as a personal statement from Jamison to the listener regarding the album. “So how am I/Supposed to leave this behind?/ I know that, I’m failing/But it’s time now, to fall into new life” exhumes his frustration with the lack of human touch on his first record, and his personal hopes of redeeming himself on The Inner Mansions. Additionally, the opening track “New Life” pits Jamison’s paradoxical production of a melancholic melody with upbeat electronic drum patterns against his troubled lyrics regarding doubt in his ability to connect emotionally. As a result, the track prepares the listeners for the sparse, but deep emotional outpouring of lyricism the remainder of the album has to offer.
Although the distance from the jubilant mechanical feel of All of Us has been accomplished, listeners may find it difficult to give their full focus to The Inner Mansions. The decision to compose an album with half its songs as borderline/completely calming instrumental leaves listeners with little mental tangibility for their minds to grasp, such as the hazy “Discipleship” or the ethereal “The Heart of God.” As a result, the tracks will easily become background noise for their study time or mental “trips.” Nonetheless, The Inner Mansions serves its purpose for Teen Daze’s personal goal, but should anyone decide to bask in Jamison’s cyborg-like auditory realm is up for the listeners to decide.
Teen Daze – The Inner Mansions tracklist:
- “New Life”
- “Divided Loyalties”
- “Garden 1”
- “By Love”
- “Garden 2”
- “The Heart of God”
- “Always Returning” (Brian Eno Cover, Bonus Track)