Having waited six years to release the follow up to The Beauty Created, Jesse Boykins III did what most artists in his position wouldn’t do: take his time. Instead of carelessly riding the wave of success and churning out a bunch of half-inspired, self-indulgent albums he took a step back so he could gain some perspective, tending to Love Apparatus like he would a meaningful relationship.
Love is still very much the motivating factor within Jesse’s work, but instead of beating a topic to death he channels it through a prism, diffusing it into 14 different shades each with its own subtle nuances. He uses it as an opportunity to blur lines, smearing away rigid perceptions in dramatic fashion. Producer Machinedrum leans on Jesse, altering and bending the landscape to suite his needs.
“Greyscale” is an appropriate song to open with. If viewed as a chakra, like the album cover loosely suggests, then it’s likely the crown chakra. It’s a petal that promotes free thought and detachment from illusions. Machinedrum layers the synth in effervescent ways brushing it across a bed of melodies. Jesse’s vocals pan in and out slowly until the crescendo to which he explains exactly what he’s been up to these days: [LISTEN]
There’s no shortage of opulent moments, the album is full of them. But luckily Jesse and Machinedrum know exactly when to slow down and let the foot off the gas. “I Wish” comes around at just the right moment. Instead of relying on heavily produced sounds and abstract lyricism, it embraces Jesse’s acoustic roots, grounding the album in just the right way. The lyrics are more straightforward and down to earth, which creates a nice side step in an album that takes the wormhole approach to enlightenment: [LISTEN]
Boykins’ exploration of love takes him down many routes. In some moments he can be completely at odds with himself (“Tell Me“) while in others he’s cool and confident ready for anything that comes his way (“Create Beauty“). It’s made easy by the fact that Jesse and Machinedrum challenge each other to step outside their respective comfort zones.
Love Apparatus is Boykins’ take on love, a snapshot that manages to say a lot without overstating its purpose. He breaks it down in a way that embraces it as a universal concept, rather than a one-dimensional emotion exclusive to a man and a woman. It can be the love of family of friends of self, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that for Boykins it’s understanding the nature of progress, and taking the time to nurture the spirit that keeps that journey righteous, a premise that seems to come alive on “Make Believe:”