JASSS – A World Of Service
The most fascinating thing when first approaching JASSS’s debut on techno label Ostgut Ton is the distinct shift in style from her earlier body of work, which is fairly fresh itself. The Berlin-based Spanish producer, DJ and artist, aka Silvia Jiménez Alvarez’s 2017 debut record Weightless introduced JASSS with a lo-fi techno-trance sound, a sort of vintage futurist style that was elaborated on with last year’s kinetic Whities EP. It was expected that this would be the direction A World of Service might take, especially given the label that it’s being released on, but on this album JASSS seizes the opportunity to reveal that her ambitions are much larger than the club circuit.
Taking its name from a radio show that JASSS used to broadcast in Berlin, A World of Service sets up a conceptual framework for what are the beginnings of the JASSS persona. It begins the process of world building, and it’s around this album that JASSS plans to construct a multi-disciplinary touring show with installation artist Ben Kreukniet. Hints of the spectacle may be suggested by A World Of Service’s gorgeous artwork, which sees JASSS emerge from a bed of organic plant matter, lensed by Berlin photographer Matt Lambert. As what will eventually become the backbone for this envisaged mythos, A World Of Service expands JASSS beyond her assumed range. The album sees her delving into oozing trip-hop and massive, industrial baroque pop. Significantly, she’s using her voice here, pivoting JASSS from DJ-producer to full blown pop performance artist. It’s most palpable on tracks like Wish, which takes on a Diamanda Galas by way of Portishead tonality, drawing on the glooming electro goth-rock tropes of the 90’s. It shows that while the album thrusts JASSS into new realms, her penchant for retro production references stays constant. The title track and In Your Mouth for instance shape themselves around Massive Attack style breaks and trip-hop, while the beguiling cabaret-macabre of Camelo takes from industrial drill’n’bass and dubstep. Thematically, A World Of Service touches on themes of liminality and transience, but with a nihilistic edge to it. “Pleasure is nowhere to be found inside this world of service I call to be my life,” she sings on the title track’s chorus, against a backdrop of bubbling, rapturous trip-hop beats.
At eight tracks, A World Of Service is concise but there’s room for JESSS’s songwriting to grow. For now it’s her production which still carries the most thematic weight. She hasn’t quite plumbed the full extent of her capacity to make meaning beyond the surface of her music’s presentation. She’s more in tune with the narrative potential of her sound’s aesthetic qualities than its pop vocations right now, but A World Of Service is a more than promising evolution toward JASSS’s inevitable final form. What she has conjured up is a deeply evocative image of something still in the process of becoming, enough to keep us intrigued until the pieces finally fit together.
Watch the music video for the title track from A World Of Service below.