Booking Agent : Ricky Biondetti
‘Glimpse Of Heaven’ – a stunning new album by the Hawaii-born, LA-based musician, singer, producer and professional mastering engineer Jess Labrador, AKA Chasms.
Labrador’s deeply personal work as Chasms has always felt like an unveiling. Following 2019’s ‘The Mirage,’ which was a dark, dubby meditation on grief and loss, this new album is both familiar and different. The third full-length under the Chasms name, ‘Glimpse of Heaven’ trades in washes of reverb for starker moments of closeness and intimacy. An exploration of the personal inventory and reckoning necessary to move forward in life, the LP considers not only how we relate to the world, but more importantly how we relate to ourselves.
While always distinct, you could previously detect post-punk, shoegaze, and dub sensibilities in the music. Dreamy drift tethered by skittered beats, airy vocals, and melancholic melodies are here like previous efforts too. However, at the same time, Labrador steps into new territory with an expanse of vaporous synths and samples, adding to the project’s ethereal electronic pop and dubwise pulse. Lush guitars glisten throughout the album, but this time only in sparse, disciplined embellishments. ‘Glimpse of Heaven’ is a fully realised version of Chasms beyond its influences; to say that this is a seamless evocation of such disparate sounds as Massive Attack, Basic Channel, Sade, Seefeel and Dif Juz is to say it is wholly unique.
‘Ache’ opens the record with a sense of tranquillity that’s built and quickly pierced by foggy klaxons; it’s a wake up call. Labrador’s voice drapes the track with personal mantras of unmet desire. In comparison to other releases, it’s quickly obvious that the vocals are just a bit closer, with a bit less reverb. This is confessional and personal. What is being shared isn’t just a take on feelings but a piece of a person. It’s both beautiful and delicate, but also powerful and controlled.
“Parallel” is a particularly bold instrumental step for Chasms. There has always been ecstatic release bubbling below the pared down, poised pop surface, but this time it all breaks free, propelled by a classic breakbeat and encased by a Burial-style synthscape. The song’s lyrics deal with navigating the labyrinth of pursuing a love interest, only to realise that not only do they bring the same personal issues to the table, but that the interest is unequal. It’s new territory for Chasms, but done on Labrador’s terms.
The beginning of “Decay” invokes the image of being next to a moored boat on a dark day. Dense fog, the wind, and waves pushing the side of a boat against a dock and wearing down its body. Vocals suggest the same blood and decay, a gradual wearing down. We’ve never heard Chasms go this dark before.
“Aftertaste” takes off with an elevated cardiac tempo that feels like she may have taken inspiration from Sleeparchive’s “Hospital Tracks” and filtered it through a dub lens. It’s a panic attack rumination of the inevitable dopamine drop that accompanies happiness. A tempering of expectations, and an exploration of the relatable anxiety that follows finding happiness.
While she continues to unfurl her thoughts, there is a shift from opening up to the listener toward allowing the listener to witness her opening to herself. Where the last Chasms record was about various kinds of collapse, ‘Glimpse of Heaven’ is about trying to develop as a whole person. It seems to ultimately be asking whether what we want and what we need align in ways that will get us where we want to be. Can we let go of the comfort of bad habits and steer ourselves toward a less easily obtained but maybe more enduring happiness?
‘Glimpse of Heaven’ is a Chasms record, but really it’s a Jess Labrador record. This is the first release operating on her own, and it feels like that’s the only way this could have been made. It finds itself in the rare company of those few records that exist within themselves; it’s a complete environment. You don’t need to know anything to tune in and enjoy the world that she’s created. It’s a record that feels indebted to itself. It offers premonitions but not directions. It gives us honesty, but doesn’t claim to know exactly where that will lead.
Produced and recorded by Labrador, ‘Glimpse of Heaven’ was mixed by Joshua Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv), who also contributed additional production to the album.
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