11.23.21 by Matty McPherson
There’s a heavenly sound (Tara Jane O’Neil, improvising on the keys) emanating from the boombox a few rooms over right now; it’s the kind of sound of a still, foggy grey morning. Maybe you’d think it church music or the soundtrack to a cavernous caper on TCM at 7:46. Nevertheless, it’s always the classic thoughtful probings of Tara Jane O’Neil. TJO’s latest, Dispatches from the Drift, follows her 2010s folk odysseys and synth explorations. Yet, Dispatches finds the old folk maverick and bass superstar in a decisively laid back modus operandus.
Having come to the tape from her Kranky and K records releases, this release is more of a unique outlier than an outright pivot. TJO’s improvisations on the piano lean towards the baroque and while they never betray her intimacy, they do feel smaller, for lack of a better term. “Use them however you like” is TJO’s only request. As such, I turned them into furniture music and went off onto my own blissed out drift. It is a genuine blast letting the music travel from rooms over and let the sounds mutate into ancillary narcotics of their own accord. Not every sound here is clear exactly why its on the tape, yet this act of honesty and openness is a worthy adventure.. With TJO, you are literally hanging out with a musician who has a way of blurring the emotive lines subtly and meticulously–this hour of material is no different, its effects just are more spaced out. Track titles and the overarching differences between pieces were less the focus than just admiring the open-armed melancholy as much as pleasant ambivalence that these pieces saunter through. That’s not to say you shouldn’t read the titles or will even find this tape carrying sounds of dismay. It’s a utilitarian, seamless kind of affair in this droney bliss or drugged down dreams.
200 pro dub Super Ferric(!) tapes in clear, imprinted shells with three color, Risograph-printed photo j-cards packaged in black & white Norelco cases available at the Tara Jane O’Neil bandcamp page