Jim Noir

A.M Jazz

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After making a record that eschewed his usual junkshop electronics-meets-the Beatles sound in favor of something guitar-oriented and very Beatlesque on 2014's Finnish Line, Jim Noir returned to a more familiar sound on 2019's AM Jazz. Working with an array of old synths and whatever instruments were lying about his studio, he's crafted a melancholy take on his trademark sound that folds in very pillowy synths, soft rock vocal harmonies, and loads of atmosphere. There are digressions into laid-back funk ("Beatheart"), vocoder techno (the Plone-like "Feel OK"), shuffling chillwave (the title track), and jet-set lounge music on the lovely "Tol Circle." Add to these some typically hooky and gently swinging songs that promote feelings of warmth ("Good Mood"), relaxation ("Hexagons"), and calm ("Egg Shell"), and it makes for some very easy listening. Noir cruises through the album on clouds of gentle sound, but he's not on cruise control. The arrangements were done with care and the sounds he gets are perfect throughout. It's vintage and comforting, even when Noir gets a little weird, like he does on the massively echoing "Lander," which sounds a bit like My Bloody Valentine playing a Rick Nelson song backwards. Mostly, though, he's content to lay back and be super chill, and that's fine. A.M Jazz is a perfect record for quiet mornings, relaxed nights, and anytime music that acts like a synthesizer and pleasant tune-filled balm seems appropriate. This may make it sound like it is something of a minor work, but it takes skills to make a record this smooth and soft without it ever being boring or sounding trite. Noir has those skills and AM Jazz is another example of his abilities as a songwriter, performer, and above all, maker of fine recordings.

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