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White Noise: Young Montana? - Limerence

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Young Montana? - Limerence

Sacré Cool

Hot Heathrr


Jon Pritchard has really outdone himself these last 12 months. Aside from picking a recording title with an irritatingly pointless punctuation mark he has released a blisteringly choppy funk single (Sacré Cool, included in this LP), been crowned the best unsigned artist by BBC radio queen Mary Anne Hobbes and was subsequently signed to one of the big labels to watch these days, Alpha Pup records. However, with his signature sound seeming to take the chopped beats and samples of the LA-based Low End Theory crew back home to Coventry and ramping them up to eleven, his music asks the question of whether taking in such a huge range and quantity of samples and sounds can ever lead to a case of there just being too much there for a listener to really hold onto.

The answer generally appears to be no, and the fact that it would be asked a compliment rather than an insult. Although on first listen some of these tracks might seem to jump around melodically so frequently that there's nothing to really grab the listener, after a few listens gorgeous details begin to emerge and from there one can easily see Pritchard's accomplished and fluid control exerted across the structure of all of these tracks; frequently seeming to build and then immediately abandon musical motifs that reveal themselves to re-emerge surprisingly and satisfyingly just when you've almost forgotten them. On his most Dilla-esque cut, Bad.day, he sounds like Flylo on tranquilisers, with an exuberant vocal sample and horns fading in and out over a woozy soundscape, occasionally swinging back in with gusto; it's nice but it doesn't really sound that different from what a lot of other artists are offering however.

Luckily this isn't indicative of the bulk of the album, he's generally not content to pick a good sample and leave it to repeat, for example on Dreamhome the vocal sample is endlessly tweaked and distorted until the track eventually decays into a swirling mess that sounds like its actually running out of steam. These tracks often take on personalities of themselves; storming highlight Hot Heathrr begins in a formidably choppy fashion but 2 minutes in a short, pretty synthline introduces itself through the clipped beats and recedes, before showing up again later and dominating the second half of the track in a gorgeously low-key moment that shows he can do quiet as well as loud. Legwrap is the heaviest track on the album, sounding like super-glitchy dubstep more than anything else, before washing out and being replaced by a cheery chopped up tune resting under a sunny vocal sample. Indeed, one of Pritchard's greatest tricks on these tracks is the separate outro, either as a re-arrangement of track elements (like the degraded close of Suchbeats) or an entirely different tune as heard on Legwrap.

Another trick is the introduction of a super-choppy and pitchshifted vocal sample with the original vocal line played later in the track to show just how much it has been manipulated, such as in the otherwise unremarkable Midnight Snacks. I call these techniques tricks because the quality of the musical compositions makes them seem a little like gimmicks that are repeated more than strictly necessary, when clearly Pritchard has enough finesse to let the production speak for itself. Aside from this, a few tracks such as Repetition and Mynnd come off as a bit slight (although Mynnd's glacial intro and clever outro are nice), but this is no great problem.

After reaching this point on my first listening of the album I was willing to concede that it was interesting and very successful for a debut, but I was far from wowed. I then gave a listen to absolute standout closer Connct, in which a turbo-charged synthline, exquisitely hollow beats and what sounds like a sample of a music box playing the Swan Lake theme duel for control over the track; and the contrasting power and delicacy of the track really have to be heard to be appreciated. The love I felt for this track made me want to listen to the album all over again and dissect its details until I could really form an opinion on it, but I still haven't quite managed. Some of the tracks are stone-cold greats and some are just good, but it all tumbles and swirls around the listener so quickly that you might end up only liking little bits of each track. Either way, its an interesting and challenging listen and I highly recommend at least giving it a go, some people are sure to find a lot to like here.


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