Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Jason Ajemian & The Highlife on Sundmagi Records

As soon as I found out this single from Jason Ajemian was inspired by his niece, it immediately changed the first few listens. I thought it was going in a kind of childlike direction, with some deliberate mis-arrangements, and off key notes, but that deliberate twist makes it come together. There's a sort of sludgy, slow tempo haphazard feel, added to the drawings on the sleeve it's an interesting idea to take this naive, and by default, sincere approach to the songwriting. What's a more authentic way to get to that place than with the help of a kid throwing the rules out for you.
It must have been entertaining as hell...that is if he even sat down with this master plan in mind, or it just happened one night, putting her to bed... and of course you have to press that to a seven inch. I have that compulsion almost daily.
'TV/Animals' is a horn heavy arrangement, and by the time it gets to the Animals section it's full on call and response with the band where it becomes Talking Heads meets Foot Village...all pounding drums and the band minus Jason yelling back different descriptions of the animals.

Monsters on the B-Side has a dirty, Tom Waits feel, it's an off kilter blues, the horns on this one range from Tortoise post rock to Sufjan style instrumentation.
The recording has a real room, alive sound, the instruments sound close, probably to help catch those little moments like the sax squeaks or a cracking trumpet phrase...shining a light on the seeming imperfections.
I knew this would end up in a sort of experimental classical compositional place...there's a huge amount of conception and work behind the tracks, nothing is left to chance, exactly....maybe it's in attempting to keep that spontaneity going when you're also forced as a composer to keep applying that mathematical right brain to composing.

I feel like Jason is working in a contemporary classical indie direction, approaching pop culture with a trained ear. I could see any number of his eclectic pieces performed everywhere from Le Poisson Rouge to the Issue Project Room.

"Monsters and Animals" are compositions inspired by Ajemian's 3 year old niece Madeline Rae Ajemian. Monsters started as a repetitive hook the two would sing to go to sleep and distract Madeline's mind from the possible monsters in the closets. Animals was started as a bass tap dance duet when she received her first pair of tap shoes and danced like an animal.

Get it from Sundmagi Records.

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