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Jonti

Sine & Moon

(Stones Throw; US: 8 May 2012; UK: 8 May 2012)

Signed to the impeccable Stones Throw label, Jonti is a South African currently residing in Australia. Exposure to all that sun is evident in his music, as Sine & Moon certainly has a joyful, sunny disposition about it.  Using music originally released as part of Stone Throw’s podcast series, Jonti remixed and remastered the 15 tracks that comprise of the album, available in vinyl as well for lovers of the black wax.


Gaining a reputation as a producer, and working with the likes of Mark Ronson, Santigold, Sean Lennon and the Dap-Kings, Jonti has gone the solo route on his debut album, arranging, producing, singing and playing an array of instruments. There are so many influences, sounds and samples on the album, you can only conclude that Jonti is a serious crate digger. One is immediately reminded of that other great sample-based band the Avalanches (rumour has it a new album is due out imminently) but there is more texture in this album.


It is a bewildering, sometimes bewitching album, with French house, psychedalia, hip-hop, glitch, IDM, harmonic pop and indie lo-fi all in the mix. It will summon comparisons with the likes of the Beach Boys, Four Tet, Sterolab, Plone and Fleet Foxes. For example, opener “Saturday Night Songs” is all ukulele and dreamy vocals singing, “Saturday night feels so cold / When you release your on your own / So I put Pet Sounds on / And I revel in this song / That I’ve heard so many times before”. It is immediately followed by “Red On Green”, a delicious glitch-driven hip-hop track featuring Jonwayne on vocals. It is the track that bears the closest resemblance to the Avalanches. Two songs in and I’m already feeling discombobulated!


Back come the Fleet Foxes/Beach Boys /Four Tet vocals and beats on “Confused Birds”, before smoker’s delight “Nagoya Train Station 3AM” drops. This track wouldn’t be out of place on a Warp compilation. And the album continues in this vein. There are shifts and turns in tempo and style at every corner, it’s like being in a gigantic maze. Just when you think you know the path to take, up pops a new direction for you to follow, but then you hit the dead end and you have to go back and retrace your steps, before finding the next way. It could be a floaty, dreamy French house, even pop track, like the Sebastien Tellier-sounding “Nightshift in Blue” or the glitch-structured IDM track “Flesh of Morning”, which you can imagine Chilly Gonzales wishes he’d made. There is a funked up, groove-laden take on the Beastie Boys’ “Bobo on the Corner” called “Young Wildebeest” and the squelchy, bouncy track “Sugar High”. The album finishes on the upbeat “Vendas Newly Won Dream”, the soundtrack to an imaginary Alain Delon crime film.


Sine & Moon is a bewildering cornucopia of sounds and textures that pulls the listener this way and that. It takes a couple of plays, and I recommend hearing it through headphones to get the full effect, before it all clicks into place. But this album lives up to Jonti’s intention of challenging us to listen to his work.


The resultant album points to a substantial and immensely talented musician. His influences come from far and wide, but he nonetheless effortlessly pulls these differing strands strands together to create a coherent, articulate and lovely album.

Rating:

Founder of the Birmingham Popular Music Archive and Exec Producer of the documentary Made in Birmingham: Reggae Punk Bhangra (you may discern a common theme here!) I get way more pleasure than is acceptable from uncovering obscure facts and stories about music from my home city. The sight of some long forgotten band performing on stage, captured in a crappy in 1970's photo, is likely to send me over the edge! In my spare time, I work with some fellow popular music and radio fanatics in the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research at Birmingham City University in the UK.


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