Published May 07, 2018Those tuned in enough to the dance scene will perhaps remember Will DiMaggio as the man behind Jaw Jam, with releases dating back to 2012. Most however, will know him from his recent "Fusion (Broadcast Mix)" twelve-inch, released under his given name. In any event, those looking to get more acquainted with the New York-based producer will come away well pleased with At Ease, an enjoyably jazzy and free-wheeling LP of funk-house full of vintage synths and improv interludes.
One of DiMaggio's main strengths on this LP is his ability to fill the album with pre-2000s synth sounds without getting bogged down in contrived nostalgia; everything sounds wholly natural here, chosen for artistic rather than sentimental reasons. When the jazz flute arrives early on in "All Good (Jazz Mix)," for instance, it makes perfect sense, even though on another level we register the tone as sounding lifted from some kind of new age meditation DVD circa 1994.
Early single "UH UH OH" has some great jazz flourishes as well, delivered with electric piano tones surely taken from the best Casio money could buy during the same era. It's frankly a great aesthetic, similar to artists like Benedek, Jex Opolis, and Body-san, who also create warm, vaguely retro-sounding electronic music that's miles away from colder, fetishistic styles like synth-wave, with its seemingly endless supply of '80s sci-fi soundtracks. This seems far more personal and unique.
Indeed, whether it's on obviously danceable tracks, like the hip-hop-inflected "Steppin W Friends," or the hazier, downbeat numbers, with their subterranean grooves and amiable synth noodling, At Ease makes a good first impression and, with its fairly heavy improv element, promises longevity as well. Hopefully this is a sign of more good things to come from DiMaggio. (Future Times)