Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr There’s no good idea Jacob Collier can’t overstuff. That’s been apparent from his bedroom-produced YouTube days, when the London wonderboy was making cutesy covers of Stevie Wonder that leaned into jazz and classical modes, always winking at the camera with a sense of “ain’t I great?” That sort of prestigious power and cheek got him in Quincy Jones’ stable, on world tours and delivered a legion of saltatory fans. Those fans often come from choral backgrounds, not just due to Collier’s well-trained baritone, but more for his mind-boggling theory work. He’s the sort of composer to gleefully stroll through microtonal exercises and key changes that work like mathematical formulas rather than pop structures. Collier is a self-proclaimed autodidact, meaning all of this comes with no teachers; but Djesse Vol. 1 is more autofellatio. For all of Collier’s obvious, occasionally face-melting talent, Djesse reads as the chamber equivalent of an Yngwie Malmsteen album, all technical trickery, no emotional backbone and even less enjoyment to be rung out. The opening is promising with “Home Is” morphing forward with a textured choral arrangement by way of Eric Whitacre’s stacked-harmonies, but unlike Whitacre’s paths to bone-shaking climaxes, “Home Is” just floats aimlessly in the ether, perfectly content to be pretty without a pulse. “Overture” continues the apathetic motif until it bursts into a gaudy mixture of Broadway themes and Disneyesque melodies, all of them bumping rudely into each other. It’s like sprinting through Disney World, glimpsing snippets of something much more interesting, only to be interrupted by a new sensory overload every few seconds. With most of the songs clocking in at over five minutes, Djesse falls into this trap over and over again. Collier might find a catchy line, a fun rhythm or gorgeous chorus, but he discards them like a spoiled child. “With the Love in My Heart” has a promising string section that is utterly broken by the hipless funk that dominates the sound, like a geriatric blind man trying to sight read The Meters. Laura Mvula and Hamid El Kasri show up, hopefully to explain to Collier’s fans that pop structures don’t need to be tortured to be interesting. Otherwise they’re completely wasted, with Collier’s inability to let a good thing stay ruining their brief guest spots. And hearing Mvula and Kasri is an unfortunate reminder that Collier’s natural pipes border on the unbearable. They’re technically excellent, pitch-perfect, but his bloated, pseudo-jazz swing sounds like Jamie Cullum on Quaaludes. It’s a sterilized, yawn-inducing baritone that, despite its pitch, seems about a decade away from hitting puberty. And the sheer indulgence of it all makes Collier’s voice that much more punchable. Take the nine-and-a-half-minute-long “Once You,” which is, much like the rest of the album, perfectly content to lounge in its own delusions of grandeur. Plenty of classical and jazz musicians this decade have been able to combine pop and more esoteric fantasies into their work just fine. Nils Frahm’s quarter hour meditations are by turns calming and thrilling. Timbre’s fully fleshed out choral works strike between modern indie-pop and folk with acute balance and Daniel Elder’s film-score worthy compositions ride the fine line between moving and saccharine without patting themselves on the back for being terribly clever. But Collier’s final damnation can be laid at the feet of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” It’s hard to nail String’s slow devolution into shlock, but Collier does it with aplomb, with so much shiny over-production that you’ll forget you ever enjoyed Regetta De Blanc. The overwhelming, eye-gouging self-pleasure of it all makes everything Collier touches that much harder to enjoy by proxy. He’s has taken all the oxygen out of the room with his own self-importance. And, if all goes according to plan, there will be three more volumes of Djesse this year. That isn’t a promise, it’s a threat.