Jacques Greene’s- real name Philippe Aubin-Dionne- debut album Feel Infinite has been a long time in the making. Having first released music in 2010 under this moniker (tracks were previous put out under the alias of Hovatron), Feel Inifinite presents a fine-tuned version of Greene’s eclectic sound. Supposedly created out of a desire to combat a trend of ironic detachment from the experience of dance music, Feel Infinite intends to bring back an involuntary intensity of feeling to that experience. By and large, it manages this.
Throughout his career Greene has focused on mixing contemporary R&B music with a range of dance music. Across Feel Infinite house, post-dubstep and UK garage are evident influences, each impacting on different aspects of the instrumentation. The UK hardcore spectrum, as an example, is clearly evident across the beats on this record. It would be very easy to draw a comparison with Jamie XX here and both do openly wear a nostalgia for a similar range of musical movements. Where Jamie XX often tries to re-create these sounds, Greene brings them together, with the pop sensibility and song-structure of R&B to create amorphous tracks which largely defy genre categorisation.
It is largely due to the influence of R&B that Feel Infinite as an album achieves its goal of having an evocative emotional content. The traditional pop-song structure and soaring vocals that this influence introduces provide a way to build layers of sound, often reaching a whirring conclusion, in order to build up and release particular feelings. The tracks ‘To Say’, ‘Afterglow’ and ‘You See All My Light’ are the most refined examples of this sound. Elsewhere, the album’s title track moves away from the R&B influences, sounding more like the brasher end of post-dubstep produced by the likes of SBTRKT in the early 2010s. While not exactly revolutionary, the track captures the glee which so often accompanies the start of nights out.
A few tracks on the album are not quite of the best standard though. ‘True’ featuring Tom Krell of How to Dress Well is a decidedly average. Krell’s voice is manages to achieve an annoying mid-place between rap and singing that could potentially work if his voice actually had any force. Nor is his voice ephemeral enough to stand out much from the rest of the texture of the track. Instrumentally the track is perfectly acceptable but with much of the instrumental intricacy of the other tracks on the album lost in order to make space for Krell’s voice, the instrument is not enough to rescue the track. Even the traditional pop song structure that Greene uses to good effect elsewhere in his work helps turn this in to an even blander track.
Other minor gripes could be made about the album as a whole. The two short track ‘Dundas Collapse’ and ‘Cycles’ have an unclear position within the track-listing. Book-ending the most directly house cut on the record ‘Real Time’, the two tracks are spacey soundscapes that prevent the final half of the album being filled with relatively jubilant, high-energy tracks. While the two tracks are effective speed bumps, it feels like Greene could have been subtler in mellowing the feeling of the latter stages of the album.
Its arguable that Jacques aim of creating dance music which has an intensity of emotion is a tad misguided: ironic detachment lies in the listener, rather than the music itself. Further, the intensity of emotions brought in by pop-song structures and the kinds of vocals on this record to some degree loses the subtlety of emotions within the best of genres like post-dubstep, where more free forms of song structure help artists tell different kinds of stories. Looking past the flaws in the premise of this album, and some of the weaker points of its execution, Infinite Feel is full of genuinely euphoric moments. At its best this is the kind of music which can lift the spirits and soundtrack pretty much any stage of a night.
You can buy Feel Infinite here.