Connan Mockasin – Jassbusters Two
Kiwi musician Connan Mockasin has a roll call of collaborators that reads like a who’s who of esoteric indie, including James Blake, Charlotte Gainsbourg, MGMT, John Cale, Dev Hynes and more. Listening to his new record, Jassbusters Two, a sequel to 2018’s Jassbusters, it’s easy to see why. Spacey but melodic, it offers fans more of the same dreamy, experimental psychedelia seen on its predecessor, although it is arguably even more detached from any pretence of pop.
Opener Jass Two begins with his wailing ethereal vocals before taking the guitar line on a wander through a soundscape that could be an isolated beach. K Is for Klassikal, as its title might suggest, is a dissonant take on Bach’s Air on the G String – one that again strays from where one initially thinks it’s heading.
Lead single Flipping Poles is the first real standout, with Mockasin’s trademark noodling on guitar combining with Nick Drakesque floaty vocals for a song that transports its audience into the clouds. In Tune, by contrast, could be extremely high-end lounge music, with its deeper crooning and sharper guitar.
Despite a deeply weird opening, inspired by the chimes of Big Ben and including the cries of children (a motif used more than once on the record), Maori Honey largely rejigs what has gone before, as do closing tracks She’s My Lady and Shaved Buckley.
That homogeneity is one reason Jassbusters Two is easy for the listener to respect and allow to wash over them, but difficult to love. For all their individual quirks, additions and various invocations of dreaminess, the songs often end up in the same place by their midpoints, Mockasin combining his helium-floated vocals with the kind of intricate guitar play one might hear at a (very good) student folk night. That’s going to delight his existing fans, and it makes it easy to see why he’s so sought-after as a collaborator: add his sensibilities and skills to another artist and you’d likely have gold. It’s also probably an ideal listen after a stressful day, perhaps in a warm bath with scented candles, as a sonic cleanse to go with a real one.
However, despite its charms, Jassbusters Two doesn’t contain anything surprising enough to make the ears prick up – which, from an experimental artist of his undoubted talent, feels like something of a missed opportunity.
Jassbusters Two is released on 5th November 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Connan Mockasin’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Flipping Poles here: