Jon Dice is the side project of Jeff Pupa (Bone Blanket, Vows), started after he returned to continental America from Alaska (he now resides in Vermont). While his other projects are somewhat organic/acoustic-focused, Jon Dice is an entirely electronic project, and man is it ever a smooth one. If you could imagine an electronic artist who makes soundtracks for film noir, Jon Dice would be your guy.
The first association that “CEO” provides me with is a link to the nu-jazz and downtempo electronic movements (see: Mr. Scruff, Skalpel) with its trumpet and string samples, looping stomp/clap beats, and vintage spoken-word samples sounding like they’re right out of the 1940s. It’s kind of like a soundtrack to Mad Men composed from the future (i.e. electronic production meant to represent times gone by), but it definitely doesn’t lose itself in nostalgia or wishful thinking. The track is paced pretty well, with an intensity that corresponds to a really shallow bell curve that also has a dip in the peak. When string samples are cued and re-cued (a common riffing element – Dice creates longer string riffs by looping two notes or a triplet over and over), the artificiality of it is tangible, but it’s also clean and well-executed and pretty tasteful. My favorite moments of the track are the sort of ‘bridge’ moments where the main string riff changes key and the feel becomes more driving/spacey than the breakbeats featured in the intro and ending of the track; these feels-y interludes actually remind me of Madlib loops, which is some pretty high praise for a guy who doesn’t even main-line electronic music.
“CEO” is one single from Jon Dice’s upcoming release “A Better Way,” which you can expect on the first day of 2015. Watch the video for “The Boxer” below: