Jhno

KWNO

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Emerging out of the copious San Francisco electronica scene of the late '90s, John Eichenseer, whose nom de plume is Jhno, showed himself to be one of the most invigorating voices in West Coast electronica by the time of his second full-length release. Kwno mixes live instrumentation with samples, breakbeats, and heavily treated electronic percussion as a means of investigating the nexus between ambient jazz, dub, drum'n'bass, and the gamelan music of Java and Bali. The songs are extended, stretched out, each over eight- to eleven-minutes long, and so organic-sounding with deep dub bass and the spaciousness of the keyboard underpinning that they give the impression they are breathing, sometimes quietly and calmly, sometimes fitfully on the back of your neck. Each song reaches the same ends by different means: "My Mind Is Aglow" melds cool jazz keyboards with drum'n'bass rhythms into a soothing, Sunday-afternoon brew or late, late-night tonic that manages a propulsive warmth that impossibly recalls both Squarepusher and Steely Dan; "Morph" is so molasses thick it makes your insides feel like glue, and the cut perfectly evokes a nighttime dreamscape full of movement that somehow seems ghostly; "Jung" is trip-hop with viscid Rhodes keyboard and dubwise bass effects. Each cut is perfectly tuned into that hypnotic time of night/morning when everything turns electrically blue with light and quick-moving shadows. The album is introverted, tribal, downbeat, chilled-out. Still, the music can turn vaguely agitating, as it does on "k2kckbk," which, though evocative of the same time of night, is somewhat disorienting, as if the remains of the night are ringing in your ears. "Untitled" closes the album like slow-motion church bells singing the night to a close and, in general, the whole of Kwno sings with all the emotiveness of heated darkness.

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