On Friday, February 15, I traveled to Philadelphia to see G Jones on tour for his debut album The Ineffable Truth. I had seen G Jones live three times prior to this show, but this would be my first time seeing him headlining. I had been anticipating it for months.
I arrived at the venue early enough to catch sets by openers Brainrack, Chee and Tsuruda, who all played hard-hitting experimental bass music as the sold-out show slowly packed in a dense crowd. I stayed on the rail of the balcony to maintain my view of the stage, armed with the knowledge that G Jones’ visual production for The Ineffable Truth was a part of the experience that was nearly as important as the music itself.
After the lights dimmed for the introduction to his set, G Jones slowly unveiled each element of his production. Self-curated visuals, a circular platform with strobes around the perimeter on which he and his equipment stood, pillars of rotating lights on the sides and more helped transport us into his black and white world of powerful bass lines and intricate melodies. Throughout the set, G Jones himself controlled the visuals on stage. His crew meticulously arranged and timed all aspects of his production to accompany even the most subtle details of his music. For instance, spiraling strobes and visuals signalled the arrival of “Helix,” and flashing lasers during certain synths of “Soundtrack to a Machine” incited an uproar from the crowd. G Jones and his crew had spent over a year creating the visuals and designing the lighting elements for the tour. This show put their impressive efforts on full, breathtaking display.
Since I’d seen G Jones three times before The Ineffable Truth and I can recognize a decent amount of his discography, the music he played was no surprise to me. Along with playing songs from the album, he included many un-released tracks and older ones from the Visions and Acid Disk EPs. Seeing him live again felt like stepping into a familiar home — except this home contained experimental bass that pounded through my body.
Highlights of the set included the interludes of “Everything All at Once” and “That Look in Your Eye,” which decelerated the aggressive bass lines and reminded the audience that the show was meant to be an artistic spectacle rather than a head-banging contest. Despite the frequent tempo shifts within his songs, G Jones demonstrated his mixing expertise with seamless transitions. His clever addition of production chops from “Fuck What You Heard” to “Helix” left me speechless.
Going to a G Jones show is an entirely different experience from listening to his music on headphones or speakers at home. The visual production is the biggest factor in this, but experimental bass artists like G Jones and his frequent collaborator Eprom undoubtedly put on the heaviest shows I have ever attended. Experiencing the live glitches, sounds and edits they skillfully infuse into their sets is unlike anything else.
For me, the most interesting aspect of electronic music is that you can sample, synthesize and alter literally any sound that you want. While many producers stick to conventional sounds and arrangements to write radio-friendly music, some artists tap deeply into their personal artistic visions and create tracks that truly push the boundaries of what is understood as music. I deeply admire a lot of my favorite artists because they take those risks.
With this understanding, The Ineffable Truth was without a doubt my favorite album of 2018. In my experience as a listener, the innovation of G Jones’ sound design on the album is unparalleled. His songwriting and compositions are masterful. The album takes me on a journey through his world of distorted bass textures and shimmering melodies that I never want to leave.
G Jones crafted the live show for this album just as meticulously as he wrote and produced the songs on the album. Every motion of light had a purpose during the set, just as every sound on the album was thought out and precisely arranged. Among the many shows I have attended, the creative brilliance of G Jones’ music combined with the experience of his live show is only matched by Porter Robinson’s Virtual Self. Ironically, G Jones himself was inspired by Porter Robinson’s Worlds tour in 2014 to develop his own show with an equally cohesive and well-defined vision. Four years later, he succeeded with The Ineffable Truth. I can only hope that this album will in turn encourage others to expand their creative mediums to present more profound manifestations of their artistic visions; it has definitely done so for me.