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Friday, May 01 2015 | 03:29
Image: 1596548 Swedish producer, songwriter and avant-garde extraordinaire Jay-Jay Johanson returns with his 10th studio album ‘Opium’

After the release of his wondrous 5 track EP, ‘Moonshine’, Swedish producer, songwriter and
avant-garde extraordinaire Jay-Jay Johanson returns with his 10th studio album ‘Opium’, out
June _ on Kwaidan Records. With masterful musicianship and soulful, melancholic vocals,
Johanson takes us down a dreamlike road, telling 10 stories through 10 songs, inviting us into
his dark and all-encompassing world.
‘Drowsy’ opens the album unconventionally, with a reverb-laden harmonica playing roadside
blues, Johanson describes it as “entering suburbia with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry
Finn…”. The intro lulls us into a false sense of knowing before changing tempo and weaving
an eerie beat with ‘Too Young To Say Good Night’. It’s colder here than the albums opening
would have us believe, it’s here where we enter Jay-Jay Johansons universe, like Alice
through the looking glass. He skilfully intertwines touches of jazz piano and a dirty drum beat
with a deep, repetitive bass line and echoes of the harmonica that originally invited us in.
Previous single ‘Moonshine’ is a tragic love letter told against a dark, cinematic backdrop,
with a pulsating and ghostly beat and heavy electronics. Johanson composed the track with
the soundtracks of both Ennio Morricone and John Barry in mind, and explains that “the song
tells a story of being in love with someone that might not be the best one for you, but
sometimes you just can't resist the choice of your heart.”
We’re led by the hand into ‘Be Yourself’ next. This slow, sweet love song has a more
retrocentric feel to it, close vocal harmonies and a thoughtful brass section, played by
Johanson himself, joins from the distance before a rolling fuzz builds into the trip hop beats of
‘I Love Him So’. Here, German duo Funkstörung bring something new to the table, with
breakbeat electronics and experimental soundscapes reminiscent of Massive Attacks
‘Mezzanine’. There’s emotion to these crooning vocals, ‘I Love Him So’ was is song about
Johanson’s son, written it in the waiting room of a hospital where he was being treated.
‘NDE’, or ‘Near Death Experience’ lays down a harder beat made up of the claps and foot
stomps of Johanson and his son, recording together, while ‘I Don’t Know Much About Loving’
shines through with a heavy groove and soulfully wistful vocals atop beautifully dissonant
piano stabs.
Jay-Jay Johanson has had a close working relationship with Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins
since 1997, having appeared on a number of records together. On ‘Scarecrow’ Guthrie
returns to give us a taste of what the two have been working on lately, and a glint of what a
future album might sound like together. ‘I Can Count On You’ continues along this path with
mellow grooves with pop sensibilities.
As the album winds down, we’re taken down new roads, more otherworldly sounds are
introduced, as if this opium induced dream has reached its climax and now we enter the
darker corners of Johansons mind. ‘Alone Too Long’ spins its story against a dark, cinematic
backdrop and ‘Harakiri’, the only instrumental on the album, leaves us with room for thought
as ambient melodies drift atop a vintage drum machine.
‘Celebrate The Wonders’ closes this epic with the sound of water, rushing against rocks,
washing us ashore to bring us softly back to land. This rich, textured ballad does well to exit
us from the dreamscape, almost transcendental, journey that ‘Opium’ takes us on. It’s
grounding, smooth and familiar.
With further touring plans, and future releases already being planned, Jay-Jay Johanson is
set to cast his net wide over 2015, and ‘Opium’ is a perfect gateway drug into the rich and
diverse world he has created.

1. Drowsy / Too Young To Say Night
2. Moonshine
3. Be Yourself
4. I Love Him So
5. NDE
6. I Don’t Know Much About Loving
7. Scarecrow
8. I Can Count On You
9. Alone Too Long
10. Harakiri
11. Celebrate The Wonders

9-Apr BL Minsk Public Club
10-Apr UKR Kiev Sentrum club
14-May CH Basel Kaserne
15-May CH Zurich Theater Moods
6-June FR Metz Trinitaire
7-June PT Braga Theatro Circo
8-Jun FR Paris Cafe La Danse
Release Party
9-Jul SP Santiago De Compostela
Ciudad De La Cultura
10-Jul EP Pedro Muñoz La Harinera

For fans of:
Portishead / Massive Attack / John Grant

Artist: Available from 12.06.2015
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