5 A.M. Friday morning. A weird text buzzes through from an unknown number. “This is a message from the Paul Institute. Two new releases are now available.”
In April, I signed up to the Paul Institute. By November, I’d totally forgotten about it. Initially, I mistake the Paul Institute for some scam text message. Remember, it’s 5 A.M. Once I get my head straight, I log into the Paul Institute and begin listening to Fabiana Palladino’s aptly-titled ‘Mystery’.
At this stage, I still have no real clue what the Paul Institute is, but as soon as I hear those stabbing synths on ‘Mystery’, I want to find out. A quick Google search and my memory is refreshed – it’s Jai and A.K. Paul’s new musical venture. Oh shit… The internet will be losing its mind.
As there has been a lack of detail – no surprise for the duo – it’s uncertain what the Paul Institute actually involves. It seems to be a part-label, part-artist nurturing centre, with the Paul brother acting as in-house producers. The pair, along with collaborator Muz Azar, have even purchased a space for the institute, located at the Rotunda at London’s White City Place, which will “support and nurture new British music talent.”
If the name Jai Paul is unfamiliar, don’t fret. He’s an extremely enigmatic figure. However, he’s also a big deal. He’s a cult electronic artist, delivering futuristic, yet retro beats, complete with mystique-shrouded falsettos.
Jai released the singles ‘BTSTU’ and ‘Jasmine’ in 2011 and 2012 respectively. The singles received comprehensive critical acclaim. In 2013, a collection of leaked demos surfaced on Bandcamp, with the producer saying the demos were “not uploaded by me” and were “not my debut album.” That didn’t stop Pitchfork from naming Jai’s demo collection in their list of The 100 Best Albums of the Decade So Far (2010 – 2014). But, there’s no suspicion in my mind – it was definitely intended to be his debut album.
His laptop was stolen, which contained the demos. There’s album artwork. The singles, ‘BTSTU’ and ‘Jasmine’, are included on the ‘album’. It matches the timing for Jai to release an album, too. It’s particularly obvious now, that six years after ‘BTSTU’ was unveiled in 2011, he still hasn’t released an official album. I presume Jai scrapped his first record following its Bandcamp leak in 2013 in favour of a whole new project. A project that may be well on the way.
Since the Bandcamp demo leak, Jai has been almost completely silent. The last song he supposedly had anything to do with was ‘Jasmine’. But now, the UK beat-maker has made his long-awaited return. Palladino’s ‘Mystery’ signals the first track Jai has produced in five years and follows the inaugural Paul Institute release, A.K.’s ‘Landcruisin’ last year.
‘Mystery’ is paired with another new Paul Institute track, Ruthven’s ‘Evil’, which is produced by A.K. The two tracks are recognisably drenched in the Paul influence: The familiar low-fi synth-funk/pop vibe that has won over the hearts of music lovers worldwide. No matter how exciting it is for those music lovers, it still leaves the questions surrounding Jai unanswered.
Are these two tracks the start of something for the Paul Institute? Now that Jai has signalled his return, one can only assume that is the case. Prepare for some Jai Paul solo material in the near future.