Jonti – Twirligig

Twirligig – Jonti
Stones Throw: 2011


On a road trip, Jonti would be the passenger from hell. He’s one of those people who fiddle incessantly with the radio, changing stations midway through the first chorus of anything.  He’s hyper-intelligent, and sees the structure of a song even as it takes shape.  And then he gets bored and changes it.  This makes for an album of 13 songs under 3 minutes (and one four-minute epic).

Each song comprises several different parts: if they repeated they might have been verses or choruses.  As they stand, they’re beautiful fragments.  And each fragment is built of repetitive elements, chosen from a wide repertoire.  An odd alchemy of arcade laser guns, synths and a washboard melt together on “Begone Slumber”.

There are sung refrains on a few of the songs, but they ebb and swell, sometimes drowned out by the instrumentals.  When you can catch the lyrics, they’re poetic: “Nightshift In Blue” is a futuristic jazz standard, with a sweet voice singing “It’s you; I’m dreaming…//Count my cards”.

Otayo Dubb guests on “Cylic Love”, an unconventional rap ballad.  It might have the most conventional instrumental, but there are still cowbells and electric guitars on top of the boom-bap, and it sounds fresh and rich.  The long verses give a backbone to the song as the instrumental rattles through a dazzling array of sounds.

The major achievement of the album is that each of the tracks feels like a cohesive piece of music, despite how many abrupt changes of tone and instrument there are.  The transitions feel natural even as you’re swept through them at breakneck pace.

It’s all a bit like listening to a hyperactive child prodigy rush through an orchestra with a loop pedal and a keytar slung around his neck.  It’s baffling and fascinating, but sometimes it sounds like showing off.  The simplest song on the album is the best: “P√ºssaros” has a thumb piano, tight barbershop and epic strings uniting in transcendentally perfect harmony for two minutes of heaven.

Twirligig is clever, and fleetingly beautiful.  Jonti needs to slow his intellect down to the speed of the normal human mind, but this boy genius is one to watch.

★★★☆☆
3 out of 5

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