More than a year after his last major release, our favorite cicadomorpha has unleashed his most crisp studio production to date; Jade Cicada’s Fish Juice is a one-inch-punch of high-powered, jazztastic neuro music. In the time since Eolian Oms first graced the ears of eager fans, Cicada aka Skyler Golden has been hot on the block touring aggressively and quietly leveling up his sound design and engineering capabilities. The progress in his work is clearer than sunlight.
Fish Juice isolates itself as the most particularly brolic collection of tunes in the Jade Cicada discography, as it sees the artist refining a number of textures and sonic motifs that he has become fond of. The highly processed veneer of his tonal design has become his most striking characteristic, especially considering the thorough extent to which harmonics play a role in the arrangement of this entire EP. The processing chains on the bass lines have the Midas’ Touch we’ve grown so familiar to, but with a refined and precise approach to filter sweeps, cuts, and rhythmic response.
The release gets off to a rolling start with assorted jazz chords in “Fish Juice" and a shuffled drumline quickly picks up pace. The massively ducked kicks and snares are a staple of Jade Cicada's mixdown process, and they absolutely smack the head back and forth into a head-nod that you didn't know you signed on for. Once the low end drops into the mix, the laser-precision synthesis bursts through the speaker cones like a nylon rope whipping against steel plates. The gated reverb all over the track brings out some serious stereo imaging on what, on the surface, seems like a fairly straightforward tune.
“Dusty Lungs” features Chris Karns, a world-renowned turntablist who has his hands literally all over the eclectic world of electronic music. Rocking with a constant hip-hop rhythm, Karn’s vinyl scratching is morphed by Skyler into a wild bevy of harmonics and pure aural manipulation. The choice bursts of synthesis throughout the composition flesh out the spongier textures, wrapping around the last turnarounds in each measure and bringing you right with them. Besides the Wonky Llama project, a side project of Skyler’s with Houston-based producer Schmoop, Jade Cicada rarely collaborates with other artists.
“More Cowbell” is exactly as rowdy as it sounds. Featuring the fattest bass line on this side of the milky way, this whole track is an excellent way to play basketball with one's own head. What begins as a vivacious little bob of a beat rapidly unfolds into the same nylon rope whipcord that smacks notes and harmonies all over the composition. Tread carefully, though. If you hit the second stretch of the tune, you'll get blasted by resampled low-end nastiness and risk a permanent case of stank face.
Closing out the EP, “Wire Skulls” is a melodious adventure through the arrangement and compositional capabilities of Jade Cicada. Putting aside for a moment off-kilter synthesis and aggressive breakdowns, this track recalls the earlier atmospheres of Jade Cicada’s catalog. Tonal blends that go down smoother than fresh water, complimentary bubbles popping throughout the mix, and precise bass work that folds together in a constant crescendo somewhere between a lullaby and hypnosis.
Without so much as a hiccup, Jade Cicada continues his upward production trend, with Fish Juice pushing his unique flavor of nuero music towards a logical evolution. As always, he sets himself a cut above the rest with advanced arrangements and sizzling audio engineering tricks. Jade Cicada is featured on a number of lineups to close out the summer, including Elements NYC on August 11, Solasta Festival on August 17-18, and Astral Lights in September. If chunky, juicy, sine-crushing beats are your thing, then waste no effort in getting yourself front and center at his next performance.