Category Archives: Johnny Jewel

5 Great Things About 2017: Part 1

1.

Yaeji’s Drink I’m Sipping On pretty much made my musical year.  A seemingly effortless blend of Trap and sultry Korean RnB, it managed to conjure into being a midnight world at the border between exuberant intoxication and the existential 4am dance music that is 20JFG’s usual stock in trade.  This was all made even better when the artwork dropped and it featured a slightly embarrassed looking Yaeji, out of focus in the corner.  A bright spot of red against the darkness.  That the subsequent EP had the only decent Drake cover I’ve heard (Passionfruit) and the sweaty, pounding Raingurl made extra happy.  Noonside (off EP1) is an absolute banger too.

DIY dance music was still going strong in 2017.  Perhaps because dance music is uniquely suited to DIY.  Everyone has a laptop, right? Identity Theft got two back to back posts on the blog along with associated label Katabatik’s output.  RVNG were still putting out the jams (although more on them later) along with old friends Where To Now?.

Assel – Barbecue Stains

And speaking of old friends, Murlo’s self produced, self performed, self animated show at the ICA was pretty special.  Beautifully drawn, Mobius influenced sci-fi landscapes played out on a giant screen while Murlo triggered both animations and sound behind the fabric like an instrumental Grime Wizard of Oz.

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2.

The New Age / Ambient / Synth nexus was also still going strong in 2017 (providing us with yet more parallels with the 70s and the Western nervous breakdown that’s happening again).  Both Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Caterina Barbieri put out exceptional synth records this year.

Caterina Barbieri – Information Needed to Create an Entire Body

RVNG continued to put out peerless reissues including the wonderful Eros in Arabia by Richard Horowitz.  A strange travelogue through imagined middle eastern worlds full of vocal loops and huge synth washes.  On Never Teach No Foreign Answer he manages to locate the overlap between the gamelan and nascent New York Noise music.  Which is impressive.

Richard Horowitz – Never Tech No Foreign Answer

Not Not Fun put out Canada Effervescent’s Crystalline on tape.  An album that manages to sooth and transport, a sort of ritualised bathing in pure energy.  Entirely synth led this will be playing in the waiting room before you transcend to a being of pure energy.

Canada Effervescent – Rayon Solaire Holistique

And in one of the best gigs I’ve been to in Years, GAS managed to turn standing behind a lectern into a emotionally transportive experience through the simple application of stunning, synced visuals and overwhelming sonic force.  Ambience via volume.  Ambience via nature.  Must be seen on largest screen possible.

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3.

With the world continueing to burn with the power of a thousand 2016s, the most escapist culture continued to thrive.  Although the vast majority of videogames released this year would have gone into production before anyone descended in golden elevators, 2017 was nonetheless an absolutely outstanding year for losing oneself in strange other worlds.

Nex Machina arrived and sadly became the last arcade shooter from Housemarque, the economics of neon flecked arcade shooters finally taking their toll.  But what an exit.  Completely hypnotic, frantic and capable of playing you more than you playing it.  Like last year’s sublime Thumper, it requires reactions faster than conscious thought and is our current go to ‘zone’ game.  No engagement with reality required.

A late entry into this year’s 2017 game roundup is Gorogoa which I haven’t even finished yet.  It’s here purely for the fact that it actually made me smile-out-loud, which turns out is a grin followed by a happy murmur.  It’s a meticulously drawn sliding block puzzle that brings in both the z-axis (as you zoom in and out of the screen) and an almost associative approach to perspective.  It’s artwork and logic seems pulled from a sort of Czech New Wave version of The incal.  Sounds of war mixed with ancient ruins, densely packed libraries and hallucinatory nature.

And then there was Mario.  Who had an Odyssey of pure, unadulterated joy.  Interestingly enough having his own run in with the rules of perspective and indeed, his own history.  Seeing Mario revisit New Donk City from his first appearance (in Donkey Kong) is…rather odd but then, so is visiting a world made of cooking ingredients.  But not as wonderful/odd as transforming into a 2D version of himself and playing out throwback levels that wrap themselves around 3D geometry.

And finally there was Zelda.  It may/may not be the greatest game ever made depending on where you sit on the hyperbole scale but it was certainly the first open world game that didn’t feel like it was put together by a fussy tour guide that wanted you to tick off all the sights.  A world of endless Ghibli-esque beauty where simply journeying between locations managed to hit the childish pleasure centres of exploration and wonder.  It’s a thing of maddening complexity masquerading as earnest simplicity, like peak Beach Boys or the silent slapstick of Keaton.  Although its post-post-apocalyptic setting did have a nagging sense of melancholy that would be easier to process if the world wasn’t on fire…

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4.

2017 was also a banner year for people still being really good at shit.  Which is nice because we need all that we can get.

Slowdive returned (after 22 years) with a album that’s so thrown back it’s new again.  And, like a great videogame remaster, actually sounds like what you thought the original sounded like in your head.

EMA put out perhaps the best album of her career with Exile in the Outer Ring.  A sort of sci-fi / internet culture / depression America journey that features a track called Aryan Nation.  Which seems to loop round to her early work with Gowns on Red State.  A sort of through line of disenfranchisement.

Fever Ray returned!  Which was wonderful.  It’s an album that’s truly explicit, a completely bare emotional reckoning with her sexuality, motherhood and politics.  IDK About You is such a banger too.

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5.

The cultural event of the year though can only belong one place, Twin Peaks: The Return.  An 18 hour movie, or TV series, or Limited Time Event, or whatever it was, it was mesmerising.  Owing as much to Eraserhead as the original show, it frustrated, beguiled and confused.  It soared, it fucked with nostalgia and fan service as well as dishing out loads of nostalgia and fan service.  It took one of television’s greatest heroes and most notorious ‘bad’ endings and deepened their relationship to one another.  It gave us Namoi Watts’ best performance in years.  It turned David Bowie into a tea pot.  It had a pretty flawless booking agent for the Road House (I’d argue the bands themselves are spoilers so I won’t list them).  It had so much to give.

It was a culmination of Lynch’s career, forcing through his ideas on dream logic to the point where they broke the fabric of Twin Peaks’ murder mystery / soap.  It had moments of genuine comedy, empathy with the changes the world has undergone over the last 25 years (“people are under a lot of stress, Bradley”) and absolute horror.  Episodes 8 and 17/18 will live with me for a long, long time even if the books produced by Mark Frost may have made things too solid.  Although deliciously he mentioned that they’re his reality, and that Lynch’s Twin Peaks may exist in a different one.

Several albums have come out of the show.  Two ‘official’ ones, centring on the score and the Road House guests.  But more interestingly two other albums emerged, one from Johnny Jewel (on Italians Do It Better) and one from Dean Hurley (on Sacred Bones).

Jewel’s Windswept contains what I imagine to be all the submitted music for Twin Peaks, a fair proportion of which was used.  It is, as you’d imagine, what happens when the Chromatics go Lounge Jazz instead of Disco.  Slow and sad and eerie, ending with a startling (revised) cover of Blue Moon.  Audrey would be massively into them.

Hurley’s Anthology Resource Vol. 1: △△ is more ambient and soundtracks the more terrifying moments of the series.  As such I’ve listened to it significantly less than Windswept as I like to actually sleep at night.  These are Convenience Store jams.

Suburbia turns to hell

Featuring : Johnny Jewel

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Lost River isn’t the best film ever. Released last year, Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut received largely negative reviews. It very much had the feel of someone who had spent a couple of years on the hip of Nicolas Wingdings Refn, absorbing his moves and carefully notating his flourishes, and then sculpting them into a stylish simulacrum. The film is confusing, though, and seems to lack real content. It sort of comes off as a little soulless, even though it seems like it’s trying to say something very profound.

But it looks and sounds amazing. Set in a suburban world that isn’t quite removed enough from our own to qualify as dystopian fiction, but distorted and bleak enough to be unheimlich. Through the garbled characterisation and flawed motivations, Lost River achieves glimpses of a strange, penetrating mood unique to its universe.

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The cinematography is beautiful, the set-pieces tiptoe elegantly between horror and despair, and – hey – look who’s doing the music! It’s only Johnny Jewel – the XXJFG hero whose score for Refn’s Gosling vehicle Drive was unceremoniously canned, in favour of a still pretty-good score by Solaris composer Cliff Martinez.

Johnny Jewel featuring Saoirse Ronan – Tell Me

Although Gosling doesn’t quite manage to tell a convincing love-at-the-end-of-the-world story between matey from Marvel Agents of SHIELD and Saoirse Ronan, Jewel’s music almost gets there for him. Movie theme Tell Me is a beautiful Lynchian teen ballad, for instance – which also provides one of the most touching moments of the film, when Ronan’s character sings the song, accompanying herself on keyboard as she lies on her bed.

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Outside her bedroom, suburbia turns to hell, and her song sounds like the last safe space on Earth.

(Also, Doctor Who has a glittery shirt, and drives about in a Cadillac shouting a lot)

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But maybe the criticisms we’ve outlined are just what people said about Jodorowsky’s cinema back in the day! Who knows, Lost River could already have the makings of a future flawed-but-cult classic?

Buy Johnny Jewel’s Lost River soundtrack

Hyperion Rising Disco

Featuring : EYE + Johnny Jewel

Ah, Lindstrom, our main cosmic disco-man, we have spent a fair few cold nites in listening to your hypnotic kosmiche beat constructions, got lost in the myriad tunnels of the mind with the shimmer of your ethereal holographic emerald synths as a companion, floated further and further down the cracks in the Earth created by the 50ft chanteuse, Solale, held hands and danced with a squadron of glass-skinned snow beauties in a giant crystal igloo on Hyperion.

Mr Lindstrom, come and meet our friend Yamatsuka Tetsuro, he’ll make you sound like Black Dice, it’ll be a total blast:

Lindstrom – The Contemporary Fix (EYE Remix)

Yes, we have been riding the smooth waves created by italo and cosmo-Prins Thomas disco(not disco) but we have not forgotten the forest jamborees of past times. We can still appreciate sampled and cut-up baby voice-rave anthems, still get lost in the house of dayglo smashed mirrors at the fair that Black Dice and OOIOO beam to our brains from the darkside of the Sun.

This marriage of those two sides is like a digital pixelated explosion in the sky, releasing Cassette Playa eyeballs that clatter across the room like pinballs, closely followed by flaming Chinese Dragons that loop in and out of chattering skull’s eye sockets that alternate between green and orange, Altered Beast characters kicking and punching in a macabre arcade disco dance-off.

Glass Candy’s new CDR, B/E/A/T/B/O/X, is a giant growling fuscia spraycan, dispersing a fine mist of glitter-beat power pop that engulfs 8O’s Madonna, Donna Summer, that guy Moroder, Kraftwerk and Patrick Cowley and sprays them over miami beach palm trees and NY skyline silouettes, they are but liquid metal dripping from sharpened points into the Beatbox jacuzzi below.

Glass Candy – Last Nite I Met A Costume (B/E/A/T/B/O/X Version)

Remember ‘City Lites’ from the ‘Music Dream’ CDR in 2006? We said that track was like frozen rain hitting the cold hard concrete floor lit with blue moonlight in a sleeping city. Well, ‘Last Nite I Met A Costume’ is the same time and space transported to the countryside, an orange fading to dull brown cloud filled sky. Aeroplanes with the movement and dexterity of sea snakes undulate through the air passing across liquid green lasers firing from the pinnacle of the highest mountain on the horizon, lasers that scrawl faces on the Moon that are reflected on vast lakes and through dew covered treetops. Then comes the rain, hot and acidic, tearing holes in the forests, boiling the lakes and dissolving the mountains to green deserts.

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We look different. Welcome to the new thing.

a golden time of beauty, innovation, and peace

Featuring : Johnny Jewel

Italians Do It Better are gearing up to a release bonanza faster than a speeding spaceship. Lets look upon these releases in some sort of preview way of doing things…

I am not entirely sure what the above image has to do with Professor Genius other than it looks buff and vaguly mathsy and disco-like. I love how there is no background to it, it just overlaps our pretty pixels backdrop like its all been sucked into oblivion! Sorry, its late, I have coffee.

Professor Genius – Notti Bianche
*you missed it, sorry, it was limited*

Yes, limited, cos Professor Genius wants it that way, and who are we to argue as the simple middlemen? In what format, with what tracks, and when, are all things about the Professor’s release schedule that we are unsure of at this time, so don’t worry and just listen to the sound of ‘Notti Bianche’.

A pixelated Airwolf helicopter is spearing through the cosmos that appears as streaking 8-bit 3D blocks, but as the arppegiators swell the copter morphs into a winged unicorn, and that in turn induces mass euphoria and the world dies and is reborn over and over again.

Speed like the unicorn to 24:Hours to pick up another sooper limited track ‘Mystery Driver’!

It is incredibly amazing how Glass Candy have honed that sound only they possess to a sharp sparkling sonic dagger that with one effortless plunge a new track/12″/photo concept is formed. Plus, we totally dig how they are catching on beyond belief now, how when a new track appears on the Myspace page, its like an event on a few choice messageboards and secret password-locked URL clubs of kids in the know. This is how it should be my friends, good music making people sit up and take notice.

Glass Candy – Miss Broadway (Demo Version)

This is the demo version of a cover of a Belle Epoque track, which will appear on an Italians Do It Better 12″ in the upcoming months.

Johnny Jewel once again infuses it all with that trademark off kilter throb that feels like a slinky made of liquid falling down your back, and Ida No replaces the original’s vocals with her velvetine shimmer, and there is even strings and a saxaphone at the end! Fuck, its like we’re beamed back into ’79 in an NY basement club snorting coke with Grace Jones while Warhol takes our picture.

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This Friday 16th February= THE DO at the Core CLUB
11-4
5quid bring NUS or a nice flyer, 4 if you go to Ashley & Ollie’s Black Pudding at the Penthouse before.

Playing Live- Rolo Tomassi, or synth-led Boredoms Mk. 1 primeval energy with enough hardcore screaming to make you go WHA.

Do DJs play the hits you know the score.

20 Jazz Funk Greats is NOT tonite, it is in fact tomorrow nite, that is the 3rd Saturday of the month from now on, with Nascent main-man James as guest DJ and all the kittens that your disgusting little hearts could ever desire.

Then for those in London, our friend Genuine Guy is playing at the below events, go for maximum funn x