A World of Service – Jasss

Silvia Jiménez Alvarez, better known as the Spanish-born, Berlin-based electronic musician Jasss, has hidden languages within her music. In a recent interview, Alvarez said of her debut on Ostgut Ton, “Every track, in some way, has to do with having feelings that you are unable to articulate.” Alvarez uses her music as a vehicle to understand miscommunication itself. In the process, the erstwhile techno DJ and producer has rearranged the typical tropes that people may have expected of her.

On Alvarez’ 2017 album Weightless, she delivered an industrial-techno hybrid with a wintry feel, but on A World of Service, she leaps into a whirlwind of contrasting genres. Noughties pop floats playfully into industrial techno; trance synths and trip-hop alternate with trap. Where Weightless was largely instrumental, here Alvarez uses her voice as a powerful tool. Its shifting states mimic the turbulence throughout, as genre experiments play out broader struggles with identity itself. A softer take on hyperpop, “Luis” highlights Alvarez’ heavily Auto-Tuned vocals, revealing a tender side to the record. Emo belter “Wish,” featuring gritty production from Planet Mu affiliate Ziúr, is the polar opposite: Alvarez belts over an angsty ’90s alt-rock riff, while on the similarly chaotic “Carmelo,” she sings in Spanish over drill’n’bass fuzz.

The album’s instrumental tracks are equally unpredictable. The hypnotic opener “Birds You Can Name” is built from glowing synthesizers reminiscent of the Knife’s mid-’00s work; the song’s bright, reassuring melody makes for a jarring contrast with the percussive blasts of “Camelo,” which follows. The atmospheric ballad “Vapor Dentro” flirts with ambient and IDM; of all the songs here, its hissing white noise and lurching beat come closest to her previous productions.

Alvarez’ genre-fluid experiments on A World of Service promise new avenues of exploration not only for herself; they also point to potential new directions for Ostgut Ton, the in-house label of Berlin’s Berghain nightclub, long associated with a particularly dark, intense strain of techno. By reworking established sounds in unexpected ways, Alvarez suggests that creative miscommunication can be liberating.

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