Exploding Views

by SJ Esau

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SJ Esau – ‘Exploding Views’

In the first full length from Bristol’s SJ Esau since ‘Small Vessel’ was released on Anticon in 2008, one could not hope for a more sublime distillation of Sam Wisternoff’s unique sonic worldview. ‘Exploding Views’ is a record both muscular and confident; destroyed analogue synths, demented loops and violent drums set the stage for his lyrical ambushes and infectious melodies. With this experimental pop album, Wisternoff steps out from amongst the myriad musicians and vocalists from whose contributions he has woven many aspects of previous releases and takes the forefront.

One regular collaborator who is fully present this time is drummer Sean Talbot, whose thundering, propulsive kit work adds a new urgency and momentum. Esau knows exactly when to let the drums thunder, allowing a dynamic alternation between dense percussive loops and the points where he lets Talbot loose. Another who returns for this outing is Charlotte Nicholls, who has played for Oxbow and Portishead and lends her ‘one woman quintet’ cello stylings and warm vocals to the mixture. The album's other obvious collaborative element is Doseone's satisfyingly growly vocals on 'The Pull'. Dose is an obvious kindred spirit; they both consistently refuse any compliance to how the music industry might wish to channel their talent.

The songs on ‘Exploding Views’ represent a move towards a more emotionally expressive outlook while maintaining the dry humour, word play and stoicism characteristic of previous releases. On ‘Who Isn’t?’ he asks, “Who isn’t trying to get off?” and answers “Everyone else and me”, while ‘Forceps’ finds him as a jilted ex, “phoning you at midnight just to check that you’re lonely” and threatening to “impregnate your mind”.

With this release, Wisternoff’s studio gifts have been distilled to the point where he could easily become an in-demand producer in the vein of Jim O'Rourke or Sean O'Hagan, a Mercurial figure who seamlessly blends traditional production mastery with a uniquely recognizable sound - one which no-one else could ever cope to imitate.

SJ Esau’s sound is individualistic enough to genuinely defy comparison but if you must, imagine the unique, evocative lyrical worlds of Jeffrey Lewis or Mark Linkous but with every other line cut up by Arthur Lee, the music rearranged by The Flaming Lips, overdubbed by Broadcast, and produced by Jim O'Rourke in a bedsit. Imagine the warped lyrical pitfalls of Love sitting within Brian Wilson's most lush yet equally warped arrangements. Imagine the craftsman-like song-destruction of This Heat's 'Deceit', but if the paranoia at the band's heart was actually all about walking through Bristol on a calm summer's day.

‘Exploding Views’ is released on fromSCRATCH records on March 3rd 2014. The CD, digital and vinyl releases will be followed by a limited edition DVD in which every track will be accompanied by full blown visual realisations made by Wisternoff, whose other gig is as a video artist under the “Ill Spectre Productions” moniker.

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released March 3, 2014

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