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Album Review: Jead’s Nocturnal Signal

This Pacific Northwest release delivers in a new and unique way.

Kevin Ashley

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Finally, I get to review a local band. Jonathan Eads, also known as Jead, is an electronic act from Bellingham, Washington, who specializes in creating soundscapes and harnessing the sound of nature. Jead’s work utilizes his classical and jazz guitar background, while forming percussive beats and ambient sounds with the wild’s provisions. His album, Nocturnal Signal, is born of the night, with the title track flitting from a half-remembered dream. This will be an interesting listen, as the premise is something rarely seen in my sphere of musical interest.

Starting off with the track, “Deep in the Night”, soft percussion is accompanied by classical acoustic guitar, and a vaguely industrial back rhythm. Occasionally there are what sounds like bird chirps and whispered vocals, while synth layers weave in and out of the background. This track is upbeat, and though the length is long, you hardly notice as it goes by.

“Undone” is on the calmer side, featuring classic guitar alongside a tribal-esque beat. The synths calmly buzz in the background, and near the end, the beat tapers off to soft synth pads and plucking guitar.

“Nocturnal Signal” opens again with almost-industrial noise percussion, but lacks the guitar this time. Instead, it’s replaced by keys and ambient soundscapes, drifting along like a cloud in grey skies. This track is very relaxing.

The guitar is back in “Ocean Gray”, along with the sound of mild waves and choppy percussion. Around two minutes in, a synth line takes the forefront, adding another texture. This track is similar in speed to “Deep in the Night”.

“Afterglow” is a very calm, laid back guitar track. Some mild synths lend texture in the background, while the percussion is quite minimalist. I could easily see this song on a soft jazz playlist.

“Sun Through The Clouds” ramps up the percussion again (as much as percussion can in the ambient genre), and includes what sounds like a rain stick or maraca. This one is also more “electronic” than the previous tracks, with several synth lines being played at once.

“Lost in the Shoreline” brings back the sound of the ocean, as well as ethereal guitar and key lines. This one also rides the energetic line, and could almost be described as “dance-able” towards the latter half.

“Chiroptera’s Lament” instantly reminds me of Avantasia’s “Lost in Space” with a very similar rhythm section. The synth work is prominent as well, but fades out half way through, to be replaced with a muffled kick drum. However, the synth does come back in again, only to finish off the song by itself.

“Grindstone” has a similar vibe to some of Senmuth’s work, with “Morning Swallow” as an example. Obviously not as upbeat, but the guitar tone is pretty close. This track is, again, one of the really relaxing ones.

The last track, “Late Night Meditation”, leans heavily on acoustic guitar lines throughout the entire song, with some minimal percussion in the background. I find the lack of elements rather strange compared to the rest of the album, which was full of creative textures, so this track is a little too conservative. Instrumentally, it’s perfectly serviceable, just not as experimental as the others.

I liked this release quite a lot. It’s perfect material to listen to in the background while doing something creative, or even just relaxing after a long day. I think I could hear some of the nature based samples in the percussion, with rocks hitting things or plants brushing against something. Overall, this album is for those looking for some new, mind-expanding material, or just something to kick back and relax with.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Kevin is a graduate from Central Washington University, where he was awarded a Bachelors degree in Professional and Creative Writing. He currently lives in Silverdale, Washington, where he explores new food and drink, goes to concerts, and works on personal projects.

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