MC released: Jun 09, 2023
The new quickly, quickly EP finds Portland, Oregon's Graham Jonson back in his home studio, engrossed in '60s psychedelic soul music, imagining some bygone era where it was all about the drum sounds and tape decay. He calls it Easy Listening; the songs are short and inviting, modest yet loaded with ideas. Each started with the drum part, a loose grid for Jonson to paint his idiosyncratic psych-pop across, again playing nearly every instrument. The set follows his 2021 LP, The Long And The Short of It, the 22-year-old musician's debut on Ghostly International, a coming-of-age jump from the chill beats-oriented corners of the internet to a full-fledged songwriting project with hi-fi sophistication. The moment culminated with Pitchfork's Rising profile, "quickly, quickly's Technicolor Pop Bursts Beyond the Algorithm," and kickstarted the formation of his 6-piece live band for a run of exploratory shows along the west coast. But as the tangible demands for his music pulled him outward and some growing pains in his personal life ensued, Jonson focused his energy back inside; to the comforts of home recording, filling his space with more gear and sessions with friends. Maybe a bit of a droll title for a hard time, Easy Listening briefly pauses for air, offering five of his breeziest basement jams for public enjoyment.That basement is home to racks of synthesizers and an array of drum machines, guitars, bongos, xylophones, and the like. One notable addition to the Easy Listening setup was the Teac reel-to-reel tape machine he found on eBay and hooked up to Ableton. "I used it frequently to add color/texture to the project by running individual instruments through and warping the tape with my finger. After I had finished all the songs, I ran the full mix of every song in a row through the tape to add one more layer of low-fidelity weirdness.""Colors" opens the portal to Jonson's retro-tinged dream world; a symphonic section pulls the curtain back to reveal a drum kit spattering rapid fills as the bassline grooves deeply between organ shimmers and hazy hums. The din of what sounds like a '60s church service appears here and throughout the collection; the words are blurred by decades of tape mold, adding to an overall hypnotic, disorienting feel."Satellite," one of Jonson's funkiest and catchiest tracks to date, is either a love letter to technology or a tongue-in-cheek song about surveillance. The jazzy percussion taps from the get-go as he peppers clever lines to his subject in the sky, at one point losing his wallet (evoking the comedic tone of Thundercat's "Captain Stupido"), before riding out on a squealing synth solo.The campy, softly psychedelic "Falling Apart Without You" is in the vein of Stereolab. It started out as a fictional breakup song but ultimately became a self-fulfilling prophecy. The only cut from the EP that Jonson and his band have played live so far, it's easy to picture it translating on stage; the lovesick singer flanked by a tight ensemble on keys, bass, and drums. Next, he slows it down for "Photobook," the first half is an organ-led ballad for self-improvement - "I think I can, think I can." Jonson trails off into a rhythmic reverie. We end on the wistful, soulful "Natural Form," featuring The Long And The Short of It collaborator Elliot Cleverdon on strings. "I can't say goodbye," are Jonson's parting words; it's a sweet outro, some healing for him, and for us as fans, it's a lovely place to leave quickly, quickly for now.