Jason Wann isn’t exactly a new artist, especially around his hometown of Portland where he’s been creating interesting, synth-based music under a number of monikers and is active as a DJ in the local scene. Clearly well-versed in the ways of the synths, Wann’s work is heady, emotive and laced with classic 80s dancefloor style. His latest project, Sines, was invented specifically to marry his synth-heavy house and techno style with female vocals and blur the lines between EDM and pop. With his new album A Series of Moments, released earlier this month, he’s done just that.
Presumably named after the sine wave synth work that is prolific throughout all his releases, Wann’s new Sines project started in January last year with a self-titled debut LP and followed up quickly with another album, Dancing in Place, in May of the same year. With lashings of Kaskade, ODESZA and fellow Portlanders Washed Out, Sines and Dancing… had tight, clean sound design and more than a little throwback cachet in both the synths and the vox. Conjuring images of Madonna dancing in Desperately Seeking Susan and basically the whole soundtrack of The Breakfast Club, Wann as Sines declared his intention to bring the new new wave in dance music.
The inspiration for this record came from my experiences dancing in nightclubs in my early youth and the magic I feel when I hear a kick ass dance record. I wanted to make a record inspired by those sweaty hedonistic nights and something that was classic in a way…I wanted to write something insanely catchy like a pop song but that also came from a culture of dance music and that paid respect to proper dance music going all the way back to disco.
Mission accomplished, if Wann’s work on Sines so far is anything to go by. Of course both writing dance songs like pop songs and throwback 80s synth vibes aren’t exactly a new concept, but both the level of commitment and the attention to detail are unique to Sines. He dug even deeper for A Series of Moments, pulling from real OG influences like Kraftwerk, Donna Summer and Blondie to really dial in the emotion. with the diverse vocalists on this album, what resulted was an even stronger nod to the emotive, minor key-driven and post punk-tinged sounds of new wave but with updated techniques and more attention to what EDM sounds like now. An excellent blend of new and vintage, pop and electronica with no compromise on sound quality or feeling.
Wann began teasing A Series of Moments in June with its lead track, “Something in the Way.” Vox on this one are by Kitty Richardson, who more than understood the assignment, adds even more 80s indie design. Richardson’s operatic, Kate Bush-like vocals make the track so much richer and deeper. Apparently on top of his synth talents, Wann also knows how to pick his female vocalists.
Conversely, a vocalist like Emily Coomber has a deeper and more definitively new wave sound to Richardson’s, sounding a bit like Susan Ann Sulley from The Human League. Wann matched her to “Under the Waves,” which may remind other old school indie pop lovers of The Cure’s “Plainsong.” The partnering with multiple vocalists allows Wann to be even more diverse in his composition. From Bellabeth’s bell-clear timbre driving the more modern “Run Underground” to Christina Siravo’s full range funk pairing on “Mr. Ciao” and back to Richardson’s heart-rending performance in album closer “Iva,” the collabs in A Series of Moments bring out the best in both the vocalists and the producer.
Artists like Wann who want to keep the sounds of early dance music alive are important, especially as the EDM pop juggernaut goes through its more lackluster phases. With more than 50 years of history, there are scores of influences to pull from now to make something new. Despite his obvious technical prowess, it’s clear that Wann as Sines is more about conjuring those early dancefloor feelings than anything, and by teaming up with the varied and talented vocalists, he’s shown through A Series of Moments just how strong that feeling can be.
A Series of Moments is out now and can be streamed on Spotify or Bandcamp, where it can also be purchased. Check out Wann’s YouTube channel for more music videos from this album and others. Wann’s also released an interesting “Theatrical Cut” of ASOM on Vimeo.