In astrobiology, there’s something called “the Goldilocks principle,” which relates to planet habitability. Too distant from the sun, and a particular planet will be cold and lifeless. Too close, and it’ll be too hot for survival. Like the fairy-tale bowl of porridge sought by Goldilocks, a life-bearing planet needs to be “just right.” There’s a similar thing at play on Luv Jam’s latest 12″, though of course, temperature is not the variable: it’s weirdness. Broadly speaking, the Nesta Nip EP could be labelled as house, but it’s a psychedelic interpretation of it, focusing more on flaring, luminous chord progressions than percussion.
In “Nesta,” the absence of hats and claps leaves just steady kicks and occasional flurries of hand-drums to keep time. Its looming mountains of bright synth and starry bells would complete a pretty conventional package, were it not for a timpani. The booming drum hits almost sound like a cartoon sound effect, bouncing heavily before evaporating into the air with psychedelic squawks. In contrast, Infields’ remix spends more time emphasizing the towering synth walls. Its initial crescendo has the tension of a sunrise — slow and blinding — but its sudden disappearance at the one-minute mark seems a little anti-climactic. On the flip, “Ponciau” and “Circle” make the Goldilocks idea feel all the more relevant. Both are loaded with strange sounds — melting, pitch-bent synths, stuttering saw waves and hallucination-inducing delay effects. Despite this, Luv Jam — aka Brit Andrew Cole — keeps it all under control, lest he lose the conservative listener. Not too much though; there’s enough unfamiliarity to keep things interesting, even if the arrangements aren’t the most thrilling. It’s this finely-tuned sense of balance that makes the Nesta Nip EP agreeable.