The most obvious reviewer micro-cliché for Jason Forrest’s new joint will be observing that the title fits. Indeed, on The Everything, his third full-length in 12 years, the relentlessly inventive splicer also known as DJ Donna Summer works with a palette as broad as the last six decades of popular music. While the album moves way too quickly for a round of spot-the-sample, astute listeners may hear fragments of boom-bap hip hop, bombastic prog rock, slinky Morricone-style ambience, smooth jazz, Sun Sessions rockabilly, marching-band rave ups and white noise. It’s what happens when a crate-digging genius spends six years honing one epic work of sound collage.
That sounds pretty damned exciting. It also sounds like it could be a fucking chore to listen to. But it’s not. It’s actually a lot of fun.
The opening track, "New Religion," with its complex rhythm, distracting interjections and wacky tuba accompaniment, sounds like a set-up for claustrophobia. But, on balance, It’s Everything thrives less on Forrest’s experimental courage and maximalism than it does on his well-honed club instincts. Without using any obvious samples, he makes a record that, for all of its ambition, is generally as danceable, earworm-intensive and charmingly attention-deficient as Girl Talk’s Night Ripper. But he has his own sense of humor, and he closes it with “Isolation, Too,” an eerie, contemplative mood piece as confounding as its opposite bookend.
It’s common to hear folks snicker “mash-ups,” as though sound collage was an embarrassing fad from the Bush era. But, complementing his WFMU colleague People Like Us (whose recent Welcome Aboard may be the saddest sample record ever released), Jason Forrest uses his own, very different instincts to keep bastard pop alive — a killer ear for digital beat science.