2017 is a year in which we try to cope with the world we have been left with, scary as it can sometimes feel. Jamison Issak, under the moniker Teen Daze, is trying to understand how to move forward through the medium of ambient pop music, in this short and relatively sweet release, Themes for Dying Earth.
The first step in moving forward is to identify the problem, which ‘Cycle’ does with its synth-infused chords and Isaak’s filtered melodies identify the crippling fear of being dragged down against anxiety.
As the song changes to ‘Becoming,’ which brings to mind Twin Peaks with soothing but unsettling electronica that fails to dig down further, Themes for Dying Earth remains a shallow investigation into the world’s problems.
This creates a sense of confusion with ‘Dream City,’ which uses slow and haunting electronic melodies to the listener the time to listen to their own thoughts. The listener can consider how even dark minor chords continue to progress and create something new, much like how the world is reacting to political instability and crisis. However, given the limits of ambient music’s political motivations, it’s difficult to feel inspired without having been first riled up.
Luckily, Isaak provides an answer to this issue with ‘Lost (w/ Nadia Hulett).’ This piece showcases the difficulties of finding oneself suddenly mobilised, in that all the empathy in the world cannot give you guidance on clear actions. These motivations are showcased in a dream-pop format, with bouncy snares and light vocals that gently bring in these themes without overwhelming the listener.
‘Cherry Blossoms (w/ Dustin Hong)’ then builds the listener up through progressive harmonic build-ups that create an electronic soundscape of hope.
Where Themes for Dying Earth falls down is in its inability to passionately vocalise Isaak’s hopes and fears. Even as Isaak broaches issues that naturally contain immense gravity, it’s done in a tentative manner, as fleeting electronic melodies simply cannot command the attention needed.
When a release begins with a single such as ‘Circle,’ which attempts to bring in a reminder about climate change through a dream pop format, Themes for Dying Earth fails to find itself inspiring the fear needed for the journey it attempts to create.