Jega, Variance (Planet Mu)

Worth the wait

After an early edition of Variance leaked to file-sharing networks six years ago, veteran IDM producer and 3-D designer Dylan "Jega" Nathan took to reshaping his now-mammoth two-CD collection of electronic productions for proper release. Although the great sonic distance covered on Variance's 18 tracks isn't without bumps in the road—the intentionally milder Volume 1 doesn't risk much in standard downtempo tracks "Sakura" and "SoulFlute"—it is a diverse outing. Jega's long-anticipated follow-up to 2000's Geometry demonstrates a rare ability to dabble in almost any electronic realm and emerge triumphant.

Variance's bottom half harbors a volatile combination of both sinister and unpredictable exercises in glitch and jungle breaks-driven instrumentals. One of the creepier entries on Volume 2, "Shibuya" grunts and pulsates with wiry, wobbling synths, and Jega evidently tried to temper the lurking, dense mass with fractured arcade sounds. It's powerful and distinct in its sluggish tempo, as everything else on this half flutters and flickers, spattered with disconnected vocal samples and shrieking video-game bits. On its own, the second disc is monstrously uncompromising—pinned against Volume 1, it's a universe away, even though only minutes have elapsed during the frenzied ride there.
[3.5 out of 5 stars]