Reviews:: John Southworth SPIRITUAL WAR cassette tape

John Southworth moves freely in the unknown. Maybe he’s like a heated atom and under microscope there’s some sort of pattern, but to the naked eye — and the naked ear — every creative expression seems like the result of a random collision.

 

Southworth’s songs are fueled by unconventional inspiration. Whether it be an obsession with subatomic particle accelerators or conventional, lo-fi emotional release, John’s art exposes thoughts or techniques that (temporarily) consume him.

 

His latest endeavor, SPIRITUAL WAR, was born from a powerful connection with Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. The experience moved John and he spent the next few months writing about peasantry and morality. Intent on maintaining purity, he recorded everything directly onto a Sony tape recorder, not wanting any cleansing to spoil the process. Considering the last time anyone got excited about a Sony tape deck was when Nice & Smooth filmed that party video in the pool, any hint of conformity Southworth offered Human Cry can be forgotten.

 

Tape hiss and pauses. Barely audible instrumentation and warbled bass tones. Naked vocals. In most cases these imperfections would ruin the experience, but here, they humanize the entire process. Even with the sonic limitations, John does remarkably well. “Hunger March” sparkles with moments of clarity before slowly coming apart at the seams and leaving nothing more than a hiss filled conclusion. “All Aboard On The Sweet Jersey Shore” ventures into an almost Neil Diamond-like croon before slowly fading to black. The vocals on “Tramps Of St. Petersburg” fade in and out and noisy strums threaten to destroy the integrity of the melody, but as is the case throughout the entire cassette, Southworth’s charisma makes the song work.

 

SPIRITUAL WAR is obviously a very personal experience for Southworth, but it never alienates the listener. “This song is food for all” Southworth goal seem so simple; inspire those that take the time to listen. He doesn’t make it easy (reading a description off the project would raise even the most trusting of eyebrows), but he certainly makes it rewarding. Surprisingly engaging stories are offered and his vocal talents are undeniable, but it’s the copious empty space he offers that gives you room to wrestle your own thoughts, start your own journey or wage your own war.

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MP3:: John Southworth - Hunger March

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MP3:: John Southworth - One Winter Rose
WEB:: http://www.johnsouthworth.ca/

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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2011 at 9:11 am and is filed under 2011, Canada, Music, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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