Contra Mundum

You might be familiar with the work of Jonny Male. You might not know it. It could've been something he did with Jez Williams or St.Etienne or Lawrence or Miles Hunt or Republica. Not an inordinately large amount of people could put a face to the name and in one sense this is probably just as well. People don't solicit what they are most readily associated with and in Jonny's case it is a song called Ready to Go - a pop tart cum eternal ad-break rallying jingle for crimson flecked dwarves and Sky Sports lounge lunches. It's bouncy ritalin kid sensibilities actually say little to me of the Jonathan I know.

I first got to know Jonny a little over seventeen years ago.We frequented the same clubnights. Witnessed the same records break. Laughed at the same scene slut sycophants. Partook from the same bags of MDMA. Like so many young artists, his music was going through the inevitable change brought about by the consolidation of that three year acid experience. In his case, signature guitar themes of often embattled love, surfing hope and despair via consumer minutae and the living room sofa were repackaged in a rich collage of brass harmonies, visceral American electronica and a female vocal as blissful as silk lined mittens.

The year was 1990. The band were to be called Soul Family Sensation - and the following year's album, New Wave. A journalist said "Oh, you mean the New Wave of British Soul" and Jonny replied "No, that's not what I mean at all".

I only mention this because with Clipper Thumb Jonny takes me back to a little piece of where I want to be with him. Situationist titles, blind alleys.Its listings surf a Russian sprinter, a wordplay on Keats, an ancient Cornish village. The sound, itself, predominates analogue electronica - mostly seventies Kraut - a delicious Neuish element coming to the fore on Borzov, all seventies synthetic fibres, concrete and functional sterility.

On Apollo Era, things are more digital - the secondary guitars give way to a pounding synth onslaught and Jonny evoking things closer to home. The title is a reference to the moment when the 'hit' still works. A moment before the career and the industry deals have all gone and the sometime girlfriend at the pikie tip of the Royal Borough is becoming a chore. And the daily drive amid the school-run traffic of Slough to score two rocks and a forty pound wrap of brown seems almost too wretched to bear.

On Chycauster we return to analogue - an Oscar backbone and Logan string synth orchestration. The sound is more Autobhan than City, in fact there are tinges of French. A journalist might even ask "the New Wave of Jean Michelle Jarre?". But no, that's not what I meant at all.


Contra Mundum