|With the daily assault of the digital age eating away at any remaining time for quiet reflection, a spoken word record feels even more exotic and maybe for some anachronistic…Here we have one of those rare beasts, recorded live in analogue, the vinyl cut individually in real time using a hand lathe. I feel almost ashamed that I’m listening via Soundcloud…
Johny Brown PHOTO copyright Inga Tilere
The concept is about as intimate as you can get and really depends on the speaker’s ability to draw a listener in, until very quickly you forget the act of listening and are simply there in the moment processing someone’s thoughts and observations as they’re shared with you.
There are few artists who I can imagine having the power to keep me transfixed using an ambient sound bed and the power of their words and delivery. Johny Brown is of course not your average artist and if anyone could pull this off its him. I’m pretty sure he would never waste our time by hitting the record button without something pressing or inspired to impart and for that I’m grateful.
Slurred Words is therefore a record to be approached with anticipation rather than caution.
Johny likes to provoke and prod at the fabric of everyday life, questioning what we take for granted. He’s never been afraid to show himself in an unfavourable light and wouldn’t spare the rest of us either, but what he never lacks is compassion. Through the music of the Band of Holy Joy he’s regularly shown us his ability to take a step back from the unstoppable yet often unnoticed changes that sweep us forward to some uncertain future and to remind us to consider what it means it be human.
Slurred words carries on that work.
Danny Pockets feels like an elegy, not just to the artist but for the things we’ve lost, and continue to lose, as a society. Johny’s eye for the mundane details of everyday life, the shut down shop, the discarded blue carrier bag floating in the breeze, allows him to appreciate the risks we face when the prevailing direction is one of profit-seeking efficiency and a shallow lack of soul. We miss the simple details and end up in this, ‘branded new age of contrivance and style’.
In many ways Slurred Words feels like a meditation on communication and art, in particular, how can we rise above banality to contribute insight, ‘I grasp for certain words as I try to say something of worth’. It’s a reminder that a lot of people have a lot to say, but very few give us anything beyond vapidity and cliche.
Don’t worry though this is Johny Brown speaking, so we’re never going to be too far away from acid humour and self-deprecation, whether it’s via getting your loyalty card stamped in Costa Coffee or observing god laughing and pissing in the gallery. As he wryly observes with a sly wink, ‘you have the light in your pocket, but the battery is about to die. You know how it is.’
Along the way, he frankly acknowledges his desire for extremes and concedes his path has been far from straight. Johny knows you need something at the heart of your existence to at least approach making it worth something, however fleeting. Finding it can be tough, and perhaps that’s one of the biggest burdens we have in our short lives, maybe that’s where the art and the communication come in. For Johny, there’s the conclusion that, ‘an hour on the makeshift stage, that would do’.
There’s much that’s unconventional about this record, from its defiantly cottage industry production to the content, including the fact that’s it’s a limited edition that’s not strictly numbered, but will not make it past 100…probably best to order now in that case.
Words Simon Heavisides
DS: You can order your vinyl copy of Slurred Words and more via
Dog Tunnel Records https://tinyurl.com/y5qxovl6
and don’t forget their Fb page