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Jonny: an opinion

July 20, 2007

Today I’m going to write about Jonny Opinion, and the logical result of this writing will be that you will listen to some music by him. I’ve known Jonny long enough to have known him by other names, and long enough to have stood next to him, and Kieran, on stages in Leeds. Now he lives in Manchester. He knows more about philosophy than me, owns more furniture than me, and has almost finished reading Proust. The future will probably find him writing a new kind of poetry whilst wearing his tiger suit.
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For now I’d like to celebrate Four Minute Mile, which on first listening sounds like a digital version of Philip Jeck — the important thing to understand about this piece is that there’s another song stuck in there somewhere, but you probably can’t guess what it is. “Under-the-sofa soporifics for a rainy afternoon in the middle of the night”, says Jonny. The song inside the noise, the person under the sofa… and it was Jonny who first taught me to really get under the desk, by the way (watch this space for more on this, and domestic pop). The interesting thing is that these songs might be heard as ambient pieces, and in a sense that’s what they are — but too great an emphasis on ambience, outside atmospherics, exterior design, might distract from a sense of the true insideness of this music. And this theme is present just as much in Jonny’s “songs”, such as when he asks “do you feel the armies itching in your other soul?”. Or in Cassandra, which begins like this:

It’s only when I’m evil that I have my good ideas.
It’s only when I’m occupied that I am bored to tears.
It’s only when I’m beautiful that I can disappear.
These will be the things that I remember.

Superiority of interiority, is what I’d call that. Inside songs, inside paradoxes, inside Jonny: it would be horrible, if it wasn’t.

Whilst I’m at it, 6.112, a track from Jonny’s Aufbau! album that uses field recordings of rainfall, gives as lovely a sense as anything I’ve ever imagined of being inside the great outdoors, sheltered in the storm. In Plan B, Jonny’s other side asks “why must you lock me away in these wide open spaces?”.

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Like any music that you can really get inside (and it can be very quiet or very loud — try Metal Machine Music sometime), you could easily fall asleep to these pieces, which is why I’m lobbying for extended versions. To find out why falling asleep to music is not an insult but a compliment to the artists, read the man himself.

But then, there is always ambience. To have spoken with Jonny is to have experienced the quiet pleasure of ambient conversation, the like of which I haven’t really encountered anywhere else. He talks not from a central point but from the peripheries of his imagination, and then you end up finding that somehow an Opinion has converged on you, gently, from several directions. It’s quite something. So what if there is always ambience, and the constructive periphery. For us unobtrusive types, the best thing that ambient art can achieve is to coax us back into our shells. I would suggest consulting Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space to discover how enormous the inside of a shell is.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2007 10:22 pm

    I’m touched, to the point that I might even have to go and touch myself. Incidentally, or perhaps not at all, if I ever did get a record deal, wouldn’t it make sense if it were with touch? (http://www.touchmusic.org.uk/) That’s Phillip’s home, after all.

  2. July 21, 2007 9:53 am

    There should be a concerted concert. A tribue to Jonny, performed by Jonny, and we get to throw in uncovers too.

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