Joni Void

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Selfless (2017), 7/10 Links:

Joni Void (Montreal's electronic whiz-kid Jean Cousin, actually born in France) debuted, still a teenager, with a series of digital self-releases under the moniker Johnny Ripper. The awkward lo-fi bedroom experiments of Null/Void (Audiocast, 2010), of the 28-song Soundtrack for a Film that doesn’t Exist (2011), of the 16-song L'Esprit D'Escalier (2012), and of Still Images & Other Dreams (2012), including the sonata for clocks Odna, and street waltz Waltz For An Imaginary Piano, and the minimal glitch-dance music of Nicolas, and of the 19-song Outsider (2013) steadily refined his skills at mixing different sources of sound.

A meticulous production made a world of difference on Selfless (Constellation, 2017), released under the new moniker Joni Void. The hobbyist has become a full-fledged producer, a wizard at mixing found sounds and samples with real instruments, capable of turning just about any material into beats and melodies. The songs are all different, like 12 demos of different kinds of music, but they share a creepy atmosphere: the music is not just eccentric, it seems to be eccentric in a sinister way. Song Sienne sounds like Boards Of Canada covering a shy Francoise Hardy ditty before it becomes a Erik Satie piano sonata given the William Basinski treatment before the noise of a crowded restaurant hijacks it. The best result in this kind of musical montage is the stormy Abjection: an industrial dance with a neurotic beat a` la Suicide, with acid-psychedelic vocals a` la Holy Modal Rounders, pierced by lacerating distortions, and plunging into brutal Nine Inch Nails territory. In other cases there not so much montage as deconstruction, like the counterpoint of found sounds for the spoken-word Observer (Natalie's Song), or how Disassociation, another highlight, vivisects and reconstructs the female vocals into something completely different, from frenzied techno to witch dance in an African jungle. At times Void's music seems to belong to the history of art: the dismembered, fractured Empathy, (with Ayuko "Noah" Goto) is a close relative of Marcel Duchamp's cubistic painting "Nude Descending a Staircase"; and Cinema Without People, built around reel-rolling clangor and muffled voices, evokes Salvador Dali's and Giorgio DeChirico's paintings. The latter is also a terrific example of the cross-contamination of musique concrete and rock music. Schaeffer's and Pierre Henry's influence show up particularly in Doppler, that crafts an entire song out of the doppler effect of the sirens of ambulances and police cars zooming by, Aesthetics of Disappearance, a sonata for all sorts of ticking and tapping objects, from bicycles to clocks. Void may have just invented a new form of musichall, a parade of musique-concrete skits. With the exception of the rap Yung Werther (Ogun's Song), and for the little too abstract Agnosia, there is hardly an idle minute.

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(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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