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A sharply tailored amalgamation of Dennis Wilson, Histoire de Melody Nelson and Max Tundra, Sean Schuster-Craig's latest polishes over most of the cracks that made his earlier albums so frustrating. Far removed from his Steal Guitars chopsocking, he has settled on a psychy dream pop aesthetic that achieves the rare feat of actually sounding both studiously vintage and keenly original.
The Jib Kidder tag began as a bandcamp sensation, chucking out beat tapes; cut collections made up of classic hip-hop samples and odd sound collages that demonstrated both considerable skill and a dangerously short attention span. He obsesses over glue and the act of sticking disparate elements together. Speaking late last year he talked about using echo as his primary adhesive when cutting together his frenetic, casual work, and stresses the beauty of the unexpected collision. Teaspoon to the Ocean is the most complete artistic vision he has achieved, to date.
'In Between' feeds indie pop through a late '60s West Coast psych perspex screen, with obscured beats and droney melodies arranged like flower-print flock wallpaper. Jib Kidder delivers the vocals in an addled, hazy, ill-disciplined monotone, flipping between croaks and wah-slathered gulps while mainlining a woozy poetry. It is hugely self-regarding, not dissimilar to Zach Hill, and will undoubtedly grate on some people. Personally, I think he's on to something.
'Situations in Love' leads with Clams Casino's approach to syllabic sampling and adds layering melodic lines that never quite resolve themselves. There are few melodic resolutions - the air of tantric brinkmanship is tangible. Teaspoon to the Ocean is psychy in the symmetry of its construction, and the frequent insistence on returning to balance and immobility. It also carries with it a production-heavy outlay of samples, melded together with his favourite kind of glue, but with the pops of cropped samples still evident. Clearly, he wants you to hear the connections.
The Guardian's April Clare Welsh has described Schuster-Craig's idiom as "cut and paste", and for his previous efforts (and in particular 2012's Steal Guitars) that is a fitting description. Here he reins in his more scatalogical impulses, excepting on 'World of Machines', a mid-point between the Jib Kidder of then and now. There is less of the rambunctious melting pot of Hauntology on Teaspoon to the Ocean, certainly less than his work on the ever so slightly annoying Art of Noise / J-Zone cut collage All In Yall, which had a tendency to rely on played-out old skool samples that probably sounded fantastic for fans of DJ Yoda, but inspire horror elsewhere.
His new album is a smoother work; 'Appetites' owes a melodic and stylistic debt to Beck's Mutations, the more dialed-down successor to that artist's wildest aesthetic collages, and features his long-time collaborator Julia Holter on backing vocals. As a result of this restraint, his latest record is a more challenging proposition, forcing the listener to question the vintage of everything they are hearing, and blurring the lines between all of the various pictures he chucks together. Sometimes, just telling yourself to calm the fuck down can be the bravest thing to do.
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