Julius St. James is hitting the scene with bang. The Washington, D.C.-based producer dropped his first four song EP entitled The Textural Movement on CDBaby earlier this year, and through a heavy dose of originality and move-able, catchy beats, the release looks to make a big mark on the current EDM scene.
Prior to this release, St. James’ music is pretty hard to come by other than a few tracks up on Bandcamp. The Textural Movement aims to reach a larger audience, with four hard-hitting tracks that take listeners on an emotional journey through deep house, Tech House, and a collection of other sounds that resonate deep within the mind.
I swore a while back that if I ever felt compelled to describe an album as “in your face” again I would write off music journalism forever. I’m happy to report that that day is not today. The four tracks are blisteringly bright with innovation and potential. As so much of mainstream music continues to compartmentalize itself into this box or that, Julius is busy making tracks that bring the energy and fusion of a kid just discovering his love of music, stoking himself out in the basement by blending the traditional rhythms and beats of house with a flavor all his own. “I really just create what I feel in the moment,” St. James says on his Bandcamp page, a sentiment that shines throughout the EP.
What Julius St. James has done here, perhaps more than anything else, is produce a collection of tracks that cannot be described as too much. What they are is open to interpretation, but a few choice adjectives do come to mind:
- Diversity: each of the four tracks is strikingly different when it comes to the layers and overdubs. While a four-four time signature and kicking tempo are standard throughout, each track builds up differently, climaxes in a different way, and leaves the listener in a different state of mind after the break down.
- Separation: As I moved through the EP, I noticed similar minimalist elements in each track, but as the song built up, I felt each track separate itself with different elements. Likely the tech setup isn’t the world’s most complex, but he uses what he’s got in a very creative way.
- Julius never put too much noise into a track. He lets each element shine, phasing it up when necessary and bringing it back down once its peaked.
Take “Sanity” for example. He starts the track off with a solid beat. A four-four count gives to shifting layers that level in and out but never steer the song off track. The melody is something that, while predictable, does exactly what the overdubbed voice tells me it will do: it gets locked away in my head. The way Julius adds small accents to complement driving drum and bass lines, making them not just danceable, but downright groove-able, is a fresh dose for the scene. This is the strongest track of the four.
The EP’s opener, “Disruptions,” welcomes listeners to the party with a driving drumbeat and layers of overdubs that can almost be described as industrial, but don’t fully commit. This is the most traditional club track among the collection, easily danceable but begging the listener to fall down the rabbit hole of diverse, emotional waves of sounds that give the track an original flare. Put on your best headphones and pause your PS4 because this one gets deep.
The third track, “Thursday,” is an amalgam of the rest of the EP. Sonic layers phase in and out as a trippy voice guides the listener through an abyss of psychedelic pleasure. This song could be put on repeat for a solid thirty minutes before you’d even realize you’re on a loop, the track is that diverse.
“Undocumented” kicks off with a somewhat satirical and paranoid narrative on the state of the EDM scene, with a duo of mad professors wondering if the whole complex has partied itself out and “absorbed too much.” The tempo is dark and heavy, mellow but danceable, never losing the paranoia and concluding the EP by conveying a sense of accomplishment and pride. Of the four, this is the most unique track, and the one that speaks the loudest as to where we may see Julius St. James head as he gains more experience with releasing music.
Hopefully this EP can propel him into enough of a spotlight that clubs around the country begin to take notice. From an industry standpoint, an EPK or download card that funnels from his personal bio and story into “Sanity” will immediately lift Julius above the level of most young musicians.
The thing Julius St. James has going for him more so than most is an ability to incorporate diverse textures on top of simple, enjoyable beats in a way that bridges genre gaps to form an original sound. No matter where Julius St. James goes with future releases, he has set the groundwork for a diverse career that owes no more than a trivial tribute to any certain sub-genre. Each track births its own mood, its own feeling, setting soundscapes that could delve into infinite possibilities. It’s a wonder he kept any of the tracks under five minutes.
Through of all this, he never loses sight of what brought electronic music its hordes of faithful followers and the thing that surely hooked him in the first place: the desire to just fucking dance, man!