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John Somebody

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Avis sur l’album

Twenty-plus-years down the road and with the advances in music technology that have taken place in that time, Scott Johnson's John Somebody seems far less revolutionary than it was when it was originally conceived, although it does not sound at all dated. The music derives from two main concepts: the idea of wedding the theory and concepts of Western classical music with the sounds of modern pop music (electric guitars and basses) and the idea of using speech rhythms and patterns as the basis for composition. Johnson took bits of spoken word or the sounds of laughter and crying, then looped and layered these elements to form the starting point for the composition. The pitch and rhythms of the voice are the skeleton around which Johnson builds elaborate orchestrations for electric guitars, basses and sometimes horns. The advent of samplers made creating music like this is simple by comparison. Working in the late '70s and early '80s, Johnson had to create his loops using actual bits of tape and razor blades: an incredibly tedious process. But John Somebody is much more than some cerebral exercise; the music is fun, infectious and darned near danceable (he even likens the piece to a baroque dance suite in the liner notes). Johnson is an excellent guitar player in addition to his arranging skills, and the album is dazzling in both respects. The folks at Tzadik deserve credit not only for retrieving this groundbreaking album from out of print obscurity, but for an excellent remastering job and the addition of another unreleased piece from around the same time period. This is a bizarro classic.


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