Jonti released two records in the last six months; one official and one free, a pretty admirable achievement for a Sydney dude who’s signature is still drying on the Stone’s Throw contract over in his new hometown of L.A. In all honesty, it’s the free release that resonated with me a lot more. Sine & Moon, which is comprised of material the beat-maker put together for his label’s amazing podcast series and also happens to be older than the stuff on his first actual album, Twirligig. The songs here are lush and ornate, but most vitally for me they really demonstrate why a well-respected hip-hop label went with a white kid from the other side of the world in the first place. On Sine, we finally hear all those tripped out, aqua-crunk , screwball Dilla jams that could be a proper template for any rapper worth his salt. But also, rather then half-sketched ideas that try too hard to be different, there’s just some really good songwriting here that shows off Jonti’s instrumental chops, which, for those of you not playing at home, are formidable. There are many songs I could have chosen, but ‘Flesh Of The Morning’ stands out because it (quite literally) has got everything going on.
To do an instrumental takes a hell of a lot of balls in the current musical climate. We currently only accept musicals in a few formats, and even then begrudgingly; jazz, elevator muzak, deep house and hold music. Other than that, it’s lyrics-to-go or GTFO. Credit to Jonti, then, for writing a song without discernible lyrics and vocals which only serve as yet another unfolding sound source. In just under two and a half minutes, ‘Flesh Of The Morning’ manages to inhabit multiple genres and sound worlds simultaneously. There’s the exotic, squelchy synth bass which is equal parts Herbie Hancock’s ‘Chameleon’ and Beck‘s ‘Cellphone’s Dead‘, but the song just spirals outwards from there. Suddenly we’ve got tiger growls marking the beats while glockenspiels trill out new melodies and little spinning counter-melodies blast out from their launchpads. Listening to this is literally like one of those infographics that they have on TV during the trendy news spots where they show the growth of terrorism or the debt crisis and things just start spinning out of control in this beautiful haphazard mess of colour. Anyone who’s ever sat down in front of Logic or Abelton and just wanted to smash every idea possible out on a keyboard will find a spiritual twin in this song and indeed this record.
I don’t what you would classify this song as but what I do know is that it shows promise that I was worried had been lost amid all the hype of Jonti relocating, working with some of the Odd Future kids, blowing up the entire Internet and so on. That we insist on musicians having to have a specific goal or purpose whenever they create a piece of music is rather unfortunate. While Michaelangelo did do the Sistine Chapel on spec from a very wealthy backer, few artists nowadays paint abstract because they’re told to, or create still lifes because it’s ‘their genre’. One of the most interesting things about good art is that it doesn’t fit ina box. Jonti’s music holds that quality, in a similar way to the band Tortoise in that I am, in a very rare moment, completely unworried by what the possibility of what I’m listening to could mean or be but am content just to get lost. This could be great film music, or it could just be mind-stretching pop. either way, you need to listen to it, right now. And thanks to Jonti’s benevolent dictators, you should download it, too.
Jonti – ‘Flesh Of The Morning’