Review Of “Twirligig” By Jonti



Artist: Jonti
Title: Twirligig
Record Label: Stones Throw
Rating: 8.2

Discussing the notion of how best to write about Jonti’s music, a DJ at California radio station KCRW remarked, “I don’t feel like writing at all. I feel like drawing a picture, with watercolours, and maybe crayon – colourful, abstract, youthfully curious, and open to interpretation.” Indeed, the young Australian-by-way-of-South Africa’s debut album Twirligig is one of those aural smorgasbords that defies fixed categorization. It’s a textural feast, complete with beautiful Beach Boys harmonies, zippy, whimsical beats, and weird and wonderful noises aplenty.

The sheer number of sounds contained within Twirligig are pretty mind-boggling. Jonti is a veritable encyclopedia of bleeps, clacks, shimmers, whispers, and otherworldly moods, and he has stitched them all together to create an oddly cohesive album. While certain songs stand out as highlights (the almost Flaming Lips-like acoustic guitar and synth flourishes in “Batmilk”, and the spacey, futuristic sway of “Nightshift In Blue”), the experimental nature of the material and the briefness of each track (the majority are around the 2-minute mark) mean that Twirligig plays best front-to-back as a true “album” experience.

There are times when the adventurous arrangements and some inharmonious instrumentation make Twirligig a difficult listening experience. The title track is one such example – a soft acoustic guitar in the right channel gets blasted by plinky xylophone on the left and screechy blobs of feedback down the center. But then, halfway through, the song switches over to a completely different feel. “Nothing quite like this” sings Jonti softly underneath a fuzzy/dreamy bass groove, and the listener is forced to agree – he’s in quite his own category.

-Cole MacKinnon

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