Julien Chang’s stunning debut album, ‘Jules,’ was entirely self-recorded and self-produced, – a collection showcases the Baltimore native’s remarkable vision and breathtaking instrumental chops, fusing infectious pop melodies and experimental psych-rock with progressive jazz improvisation and sophisticated classical construction. The arrangements twist and turn, toying with expectation and reveling in the freedom and discovery of youth. At the same time, Chang’s subtle, restrained vocal delivery suggests a deep thoughtfulness, one that belies his youth as he grapples with love and friendship, growth and change, memory and regret. The result is an album that boldly defies categorization, a trippy sonic collage that dares you to keep up as it tips its cap to everything from Stevie Wonder and The Beatles to Tame Impala and Robert Glasper.
“It was very much a one-man-band, control freak kind of effort,” he laughs. “I’d start writing a song at four o’clock in the afternoon, and then whenever I got too tired to keep working on it, the song would be done.”
That reliance on spontaneity and gut instinct would guide Chang throughout the project, and it infuses the record with a freewheeling energy from the outset. Album opener “Deep Green” sets the stage perfectly, beginning with a classical swirl that slowly morphs into a blend of prog-rock and psychedelic pop. It’s impossible to predict where Chang’s writing may go at any given moment: high-octane disco-funk gives way to dazzling jazz piano (performed by school friend, Jeheiel Smith) on “Of The Past,” while a percussive groove evolves into the foundation for a soaring saxophone solo (performed by another friend from school, Ephraim Dorsey) on “Dogologue,”and effervescent synthesizers swell into a throwback electronic orchestra on “Memory Loss.”
Julien’s forthcoming album to be revealed via Transgressive Records in 2022.