Review: Josh JohnsonUnusual Object

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Josh Johnson - Unusual Object

Jazzy Goodtimes

(This review is by Pingu Davis)

Josh Johnson is back at it again with his new album Unusual Object. Johnson is no stranger to the art of production creating and this project helps solidify his place as what I would consider to be a pioneer. This record has sounds and concepts on that you would never have guessed would be used on a “jazz” project. Some of them make sense and others don’t. However, even when certain ideas aren’t making sense, it still reflects what I would consider to be good production. It really feels to me like there is a little bit of everything that makes an album good scattered within this project. The “goodness” doesn’t hit you all at once or in some grand way, but it still hits you in subtle and minute ways that let you know that this is a cool thing you’re listening to.

There’s a lot of really profound and high moments within this album. What really sparked my interest was the implementation of effects for the alto. I’ve never heard anything like it. It’s foreign, it’s intriguing, it’s confusing, but more than anything, it just sounds nice. There’s also a bit of sampling throughout the project that really lets you know that this isn’t your typical jazz album. If buildups are your thing, check out the track “Sterling”. Or if tame is your vibe, check out the track “Deep Dark or Telling You”. That’s the cool part of this album, everyone can find something that pleases their ear somewhere. It may not be the entire album, or even an entire song, but there’s these really cool nuances throughout this that instantly separate this album from others.

Even though there are these super cool and interesting moments, there are also some forgettable and bland ones. I wouldn’t classify them as bad because they have the ability to shine and be interesting in their own way, but for me at least, it took effort to get to that point. After one listen on tracks like “Local City of Industry” or “Jeanette”, it’s easy to forget about them. A good comparison would be very abstract art. It’s cool in its own way and you can see its strengths if you really want, but after you’re done looking at it, you’re not really stuck on it.

At the end of the day, this album is what I would describe as stepping out of your comfort zone. It leans away from the traditional sounds we’ve already heard and jumps forth into something new and different. Is it an absolute game changer? Eh. Is it a step in a new direction? Absolutely.

If this is the way jazz or music is heading, I’m 100% down for it.

3.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

Unusual Object is out of April 5th via Northern Spy Records.

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