Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Jo Mango - Transformuration


Jo Mango started out as a Glaswegian folktronica quartet, only for the moniker to be appropriated by the lead singer and primary songwriter in the group, whose output has been sporadic to put it mildly. Transformuration is the 3rd release from the multi-instrumentalist, many moons since her debut recording, perhaps taking a leaf out of her occasional collaborator Vashti Bunyan’s book that less is most definitely more. Throw in further meetings of minds with well-known experimentalists Devendra Banhart and David Byrne and it starts to paint a picture of someone not afraid to take her time getting things right on her own terms….either that or she likes to spend time between albums taking trips to Vega.

Even so, this latest release is essentially a collection of remixes taken from Jo’s 2012 work ‘Murmuration’, perhaps a stop gap until the next proper Jo Mango release, or indeed perhaps not……this may be the version she was originally striving for but didn’t know it at the time….anyway only she knows for sure. To be honest, once you’ve listened to these ten exquisite tracks, a perfect combination of haunting vocal, fragile as eggshells yet ethereal to boot, sparse lo-fi folktronica arrangements, creating beautifully sluggish dreamy soundscapes, you will be dying to check out the originals too, however different they sound.

‘Blue Dawn Light’ opens slowly with an eerie chime, interwoven with electronic noodlings, setting the chill-out tone for the rest of the songs….perhaps a combination of Kate Bush, Bjork, Laurie Anderson and Boards of Canada forced through a Hadron Collider, creating something truly otherworldly. ‘Ludwig’ sounds like the in-flight material you will be played when space travel for the masses is finally nailed. ‘Evermore’ ‘Cross Ties’ and ‘Every Certainty’ continue in the same vein, still managing to be sufficiently beguiling to persuade the listener to continue onwards to the album’s highlight ‘The Freedom of Seamonsters’ as the subject matter turns from outer to inner space. ‘Moth and Moon’ serves as a suitably skittish penultimate and ‘Cordelia’ finishes things off in predictably surreal downbeat fashion. There are far worse albums to come down to than this one.  

Words - Mike Price
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