Review: Shotty Jon – Sketches (KBM Sound, May 17)

a4197806170_10The music found on Sketches isn’t the flesh-and-blood creature that slithers out of that ominous archway set into the rock, but rather the reality-bending mass of cold, grey ones and zeroes that seeps into your vulnerable brain when you look at the image on an electronic screen. It has just enough tangibility and uneasy familiarity to pass itself off as homemade clutter-concrète, but much heavier processing in the form of gelatinous synth slaps, damaged artifacts from extremely low sample rates, and silicon-sheened frequency extracts is pervasive, poisoning even the most earthbound tracks like the queasily ritualistic “Spinal Drop” with skin-crawling artificiality and necrotizing bit rot. An odd optimism emerges on “49,” which contrasts bleak, faltering text-to-speech laments with conventional, if slightly chilly harmonic ambience, yet any true resolution is again unseated by stubborn imperfections: chopped-and-stitched creaks spread like a digitized rainstorm, cloying currents of spectral decay. The careless, largely uninteresting percussion experimenting of “Mechanomics” is an unfortunate low point, but the singular appeal Shotty Jon introduces without full commitment returns with the closing track, a moody collage of dross, doldrum, and distance whose pairing of piano elegy with muffled murk and domestic abstraction echoes the addictive melancholia of trans-Atlantic colleagues barn sour. Won’t you crawl on in with me?