J Fernandez – Many Levels of Laughter
After three EPs, J Fernandez finally comes through with debut full length Many Levels of Laughter – and hasn’t lost any of his DIY eclecticism. Built on salvaged equipment and recorded at home, Fernandez’s kooky, gentle record shows he’s still got plenty of left-field ideas for soft, sculptural sound-conjuring. Read My Mind has shiny, articulate guitarwork which feels like it’s blowing raspberries, and Filled With Joy plays with jazz in a fun, swingin’ kinda way. Yet, at times the ambient, complicated soundscapes Fernandez creates teeter on the monotonous, and although the album clocks in at just half an hour, a well-placed trim could have more fully showed off the record’s assets.
A wheezing Vox Jaguar organ tumbled with Casio loops and a reportedly broken Moog synth occasionally feels like a candle-lit vigil for the 1960s, but sprinkles of deft extra touches keep Many Levels... from feeling like you might've heard it all before. There's a dissonant, breathy-sounding pipe-or-maybe-horn which runs through several tracks; it’s piercing and not altogether pleasant, but it’s exactly what saves the LP from sounding a little too giddy on nostalgia. [Katie Hawthorne]