It’s been six years since Nosaj Thing emerged among the vanguard of Low End Theory-affiliated producers. His debut Drift created 31st century tones and chromatic textures so sleek that they inspired innumerable Soundcloud imitators. None could match its moody iridescence, faded sadness and funky swing. Bach collided with Boards of Canada. Spaceships came equipped with rear view mirrors and a booming system bumping G-Funk and warped soul. Pitchfork called it “gorgeously haunted.” Resident Advisor said it “exists in its own dimension and feeds off its own exhaust: full of alien choirs, conquered computers, and refracting stained-glass light.” Fated exists in this same alternate dimension, but further out. If comparisons previously existed with other artists within the LA beat scene, Nosaj has rendered them baseless.
His second album on Innovative Leisure (after 2013’s Home) seeks celestial escape through streamlining. By stripping away all but what’s really necessary, the sounds harness an unusual directness. Guest appearances are rare, save for vocals from Whoarei on “Don’t Mind Me,” and Chicago rap phenomenon, Chance the Rapper. The latter gravely spits on “Cold Stares,” invoking terminal fevers, empty beds, devil’s whispers, and insomniac fears. If comparisons crop up, Fated has most in common with records like Burial’s Untrue or Dilla’s Donuts. Requiems that canvass the shadowy hinterlands between life and death, darkness and light, loneliness and love. Eternal themes re-imagined in ingenious fashion. It’s foundation rests on that intangible thing that some call fate or primordial feeling. Numbness receding, old emotions flooding back, un-tampered visions. Fated is what you can’t explain, so it’s best to just listen.