Though Jason Forrest never dropped an album as legendary as The Avalanches’ Since I Left You, nor one as crowd pleasingly populist as Girl Talk’s instant party hit Night Ripper, he’s nonetheless one of the most creative sample-based artists in the game. His 2004 effort The Unrelenting Songs of the 1979 Post Disco Crash was, for most, an introduction to his spastic and intense brand of “breakcore.” And its follow-up, 2005’s Shamelessly Exciting, stretched that pop culture taffy even further, adding the talents of outside musicians on some tracks while pushing copyright limits on others, like the made-for-trivia headrush of “My 36 Favorite Punk Songs.” Oddly enough, though, Forrest hasn’t been nearly as prolific since that brief productive period, his new album The Everything arriving a long six years after his last, head-spinning cut-and-paste tapestry.
Still the idiosyncratic beatmaker and chop-up artist that has been known to rock parties as DJ Donna Summer, Forrest eases up slightly on The Everything, dialing down some of his most scatterbrained impulses and, instead, following more carefully structured paths. It’s a bit more tempered and restrained, and there are few of the blatantly identifiable sample clips that defined his earlier records. Rather, this album shares much more in common with an artist like DJ Shadow or Amon Tobin, its 11 pieces crafted from moodier, atmospheric parts and placed together in a fashion that’s quite lovely, if not nearly as bold and confrontational as Forrest’s prior works.
True to the album’s title, The Everything spans a wide spectrum of sounds and styles, Forrest still proving himself adept at leaping from one sonic touchstone to another. He ushers in a mid-tempo funk groove on “New Religion,” riding an infectious guitar lick interspersed with flashes of Hammond organ. Just one track later, he opts for a massive big beat sound, distorted digital drums crashing beneath zooming synths and 8-bit thuds. A particular highlight is “Raunchy,” an ultra cool rockabilly rave-up that spindles around vintage guitar licks and irresistible touches of horns. And “Roger Dean Landscape” borrows not so much from Yes but ’90s rave techno and house.
To some degree, The Everything is a fairly conventional midtempo electronica album by Forrest’s standards. It is still quite flashy and spastic and parts, and never sits still for all that long. But that said, it’s a laid-back and enjoyable listen, and while it may have taken him a long while to finally deliver another set of sample-based mayhem, The Everything is a welcome and oddly comforting addition to the Forrest catalog.
DJ Shadow – The Private Press
Coldcut – We Like to Play
Girl Talk – Feed the Animals
Video: Jason Forrest – “Raunchy”
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.