J Fernandez - Occasional Din - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

J Fernandez - Occasional Din

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2018-11-09
J Fernandez - Occasional Din
J Fernandez - Occasional Din

The name J. Fernandez was sitting somewhere in the back of my mind without an ability to connect him to any specific genre or sound. Nor did the minimalistic cover of his new (second) album Occasional Din give any leads what could be expected, but by the look of it, minimalistic electronics or techno seemed to be in order.

Actually, putting a finger fully on what this guy from Chicago is doing is not that easy. On the first listen, it all seems simple, easy and familiar. And then again, not really. Sunshine pop for the 21st century? Or for those who don't remember or never heard a note of the genre, how about J. Mascis and Evan Dando joining the Elephant 6 collective. Maybe closer, but then... almost.

The more you dig deeper into Occasional Din, the more intricate details surface, like on “Volcanic Winter” or “Wildfire”, then you get a sense why Fernandez (born Justin Fernandez from Arkansas) first came to Chicago to work for a renowned map company. Like Brian Wilson, John Lennon or High Llamas' Sean O’Hagan a bit later on, Fernandez is one of those musicians, or you can even use the term composers, that start with skeletal musical elements that seem oh so simple and then starts piecing them together like one of those 1000+ piece puzzles without at any moment making his music sound busy or complicated.

Just intricate and detailed and oh so easy on the ear. No wonder he cites the 60s-70s Italian soundtrack composers like Bruno Nicolai as his influences. Try “Assorted Balloons” with its tricky use of old Casios.

As could be expected with such one-man wizards, he plays practically everything himself, with mixing done by Cooper Crain of Cave and Bitchin Bajas fame, giving the sound an easy going clarity it deserves. Lyrically, one man band can spell isolation and associated themes, Fernandez does not shy away from it, but expands into a wider theme range, where “Rewards”, for example, is turned into an online survey-type song.

So everything is familiar with J Fernandez and his Occasional Din. But then, not really, and that is what makes it such a treat of an album.

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