AJOG | Hour Club
A journey of giraffes seem to be passing by, and we are listening to a gentle stampede. In this case, though, it’s Baltimore’s John Lane under the simplified moniker of AJOG and his self-released Hour Club – now up on Bandcamp. This is a rare bird (sorry to mix animalia metaphors) in terms of introductions, that is both wholly from leftfield, and also jam-packed, with a running time of around three hours! There are twenty-five tracks here, each just about seven minutes in length, ranging from ambient passages to soundtrack-style electronics – all poured slowly over in sweet time, and generous space. This slipped into the light amidst the holidays when we were shuttered for a week, so it’s time for a spin. Oh, and watch for something new from him later in 2019 via Somewherecold Records.
From the start this recording is infused with a mysterious drone that feels as though you are lost in a gigantic factory run on steam power. There are periodic moments when curious beats emerge, like on Four Switch Woodgrain, where it seemingly references themes from a generic science-discovery style cable program. But elsewhere the atmosphere is less fizzy, and more dark and suspenseful, in fact one could get lost in the moments between Light Sixer to Heavy Sixer. Blended well with the faded glory of work like Syzygy, rife with gentle Asian rhythms, its aura would otherwise disappear into the background without contradictory tones and values that surround it.
Though this record has so many vignettes, and lots of diverse signatures, it doesn’t come off as one for all and all for one – in other words it’s not overtly trying to please all palettes. Instead there are certain tracks that are simply more compelling in the moment, but this will generally be up to individual taste. I can certainly appreciate when AJOG incorporates a vocal effect as on the smallest addressable element in all points whereas on B to A (and A to B) seem like exploratory bookends that become more like threads that connect other material. Though these threads are critical to (again, sorry) getting from point A to point B (or verse vica).
My favorite piece here is the subtle, minimal EETEE. If you are a deep listener who can tune everything else in your daily life out for a period of time, consider this record the way in which you would going to the cinema to watch a full-length feature. The multi-colored ambient washes are aided and abetted by the occasional beat-structured work, such as Read Only Memory, and this, though light and frothy, slightly shifts the mood (chimes and all). It’s followed up by 128 Colors, With Max 4 Colors Per Line which seems slightly incoherent, and out of place (as is the case with Sound Tuner: MB). A bit of editing would make this a perfect beast, it’s “almost” two records in one, which I don’t have any issue with whatsoever – just may require some fine tweaking is all.
The track titles are so curious — indicative of a gamer’s worst Humpty Dumpty nightmare, parts and pieces of monitors and other internal gadgets and accessories, as if a virtual phantom has taken over the machine and the player is rummaging through the console. Because of the mesmerizing sound effects I am barely attempting to piece together that puzzle. In a way the moments of incoherence seem to be what the artist embraces (2 Joysticks and elsewhere), it only emphasizes the attitude of a new generation, or a comment on post this + that. Instead of being hung-up on any assumptions, I recommend this as a sublime separation from social media (etc) for a while, to just lose yourself in the incredible depth of atmospheric layers provided on Hour Club – an arresting record that warrants a spin or two. As a whole, in a way, this has more in common with the laid back psychedelic fusion of Pink Floyd or the Grateful Dead in terms of attitude than it is with modern electronic music – though, for these ears, his best shines when he’s exploring the hybrid hiccups between broken beats and ambient textures. Watch for more work by AJOG in the near future, a promising new artist.