Sophomore, Mathematics and Economics Double Major
Listen while you read:
Jerry Paper is weird. He labels his music as “11th dimensional pop” and clarifies that “’Jerry Paper’ is the entity that inhabits Lucas W. Nathan’s body.” By all accounts, Nathan is a busboy living in Brooklyn. His Instagram consists almost exclusively of photos of his beloved cat Ernie. He creates album titles such as “International Man of Misery” or “Feels Emotions,” one of which is accompanied by a bizarre 800-word origin story featuring a seafaring alternative spiritual center. His latest project, Big Pop For Chameleon World, debuted alongside an album-themed video game which reviewers described as “like stepping into a virtual acid trip.” In the context of such peculiarity, it is not surprising that the following is included its label description: “the album deals with themes of simulacra, an inter-dimensional infinite man existing in a finite world, the discomfort of existence in Body World, and love as the pinnacle of our time here.” But despite (or more precisely because of) this quirky persona, what makes Jerry Paper so intriguing is his unique approach to modern music.
It might sound impossible, but this album is even more ambitious than his previous efforts. This time around, Nathan experiments with more electronic synthesizers, which only serves to enhance his funky repertoire to better communicate his sonic ideas. Interlocking melodies and harmonies, as well as new textures and concepts, seem almost at risk of bumping into each other and derailing the music itself. Somehow, it’s all held together by a singular grooviness. Listening to Jerry Paper feels like being beamed up into an alien spaceship where there is a never-ending lounge party, with the guests inexplicably finding one foot stuck in 1972 and the other in 2372. Everyone sinks into their flubber chairs and sips cosmic cocktails, but Jerry is off in the corner alone, steadily bobbing to his own tunes.
Then again, it’s not all silly games. By approaching the world as an 11th-dimensional outsider, Nathan makes piercing observations about what makes humans human. On “Love, Still Love,” he observes that “In the random world generator / realities crash and minds confuse / but love, still love.” He’s right: life can be random and confusing, maybe reality is a subjective myth, but love manages to transcend this and connect humans in a particularly human way. In fact, transcendence and the effort to project meaning onto our earthly existence are important themes of the album. Clearly, Nathan is in tune with the core human project, and this shines through in the music. When asked where he sees himself in ten years and how he will get there, Nathan says “Hopefully still alive… I will eat food and drink water every day.”
Album Artwork by Keith Rankin