Reaching tech's limit, YouTube phenom Jacob Collier seeks a human touch

By Amelia Mason

In a stuffy studio at MIT’s Media Lab, Jacob Collier and Ben Bloomberg are squeezed in front of a small desk flanked by big speakers. Bloomberg, a sound designer, is helping the musician prepare for his upcoming performance in Cambridge. Right now, they're on the hunt for electronic samples.

"Wood block might be nice," Collier says, as the speakers emit a hollow thunk. "We're going to have real wood blocks," Bloomberg points out.

Collier is a British YouTube phenom who has been hailed as "jazz's new messiah." He's especially well-known for his elaborate one-man live show, which he developed with Bloomberg at the Media Lab a few years ago. Now, as Collier gets ready to release his sophomore album, "Djesse," he's adding a new element to his musical world: other people.

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