Jam City Presents EFM

Jam City Presents EFM

As an associate of London production/DJ collective and label Night Slugs, Jam City (aka Jack Latham) was one of the key players in the early-2010s push toward deconstructing club music to its essential pieces. It was a forward-thinking philosophy, but one that naturally required heavily referencing club music’s foundations—and keeping a foot as much in the past as the future—to make its point. Jam City’s first album, 2012’s Classical Curves, disassembled dance music’s drums, synths, and rhythms, and basically left the parts on the floor, wires and all—an experiment that occasionally yielded something resembling a dance beat, like a dangling taillight that’s flashing but not exactly functional. A decade later, Latham’s music is no less conceptual, and no less referential. But it does tend to sound friendlier to casual ears—and not just those concerned with pushing electronic forward for its own sake—a trait that’s earned him credits working with Olivia Rodrigo, Joji, and Troye Sivan. His fourth LP, Jam City Presents EFM, revels in escapism, and in Latham’s own past as a teen coming of age in Redhill, Surrey, about an hour south of London. “We had one nightclub in town,” he tells Apple Music about the now-shuttered Liquid & Envy nightclub, a big part of the album’s inspiration and where he often spent his weekends before moving to London. “It was just somewhere where you went and blew your paycheck every Friday, Saturday night. It wasn’t a cool club. It wasn’t somewhere where I first heard house and garage, even though you’ll hear that. But there was just something about that atmosphere and that feeling of—you spend the week working a shitty job or whatever, and you have all this pent-up energy, and it just all comes out in those places. Every time I mentioned this [kind of] club, everyone knows what I’m talking about—from the UK, at least.” Before he began making the album, Latham had a narrative jumping-off point: “It kind of started with this image of three friends in a car,” he says. “It’s the dead of winter, and you’re going into a city center, and the music’s playing. You’re going out somewhere. Then, you’re getting away from somewhere else, right?” The FM in EFM can vary, depending on which version of Latham you get, but to assume one interpretation is the radio playing in that hypothetical vehicle probably wouldn’t be going too far out on a limb: The record weaves together elements of R&B (“Do It” featuring Aidan), techno (“Redd St. Turbulence”), breakbeat hardcore (“Be Mine” featuring Aidan), garage (“Wild n Sweet” featuring Empress Of), and more for a fluid, station-surfing soundtrack to leaving your teenage bedroom, even if just for a few hours. But it’s the hazy, synthy, impressionistic slow-jam “Tears at Midnight” that feels the most poignant. “The night would end with Bon Jovi, ‘Livin’ on a Prayer,’” Latham says of how his youthful Fridays would come to a close. “And everyone’s got their pint glasses and everyone’s like tears in eyes. And then fights would break out. And there’d be a fight in the car park. And there’d be a fight in the kebab shop afterwards. It just had a vibe.”

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