Track Review: Iamamiwhoami – ; John

Iamamiwhoami - ; JohnTrack by Track: ;john | Clump | Sever | Drops | Good Worker | Play | In Due Order | Idle Talk | Rascal | Kill

After a six month break between videos, iTunes releases, and a concert-esque performance piece on their official website (which is nothing but a black screen now), one of the most innovative artists in the music industry have come out of their foil wrapped, cardboard castles to unveil a new generation of videos & tracks, starting with the release of “; John” to Youtube and iTunes.

While there are currently no sources available to download any of Iamamiwhoami’s blossoming discography in a lossless format, the production on any given song by the project is so well executed in the engineering process that while a 256kbps download from iTunes still gives you noticeable loss in clarity, they still sound decent. Of course the gritty opening synth to “; John” would sound a thousand times more powerful in a 24-bit WAV format, but if you put your headphones on, there is an oscillation that flutters the opening synth so rapidly that it almost feels as if you can feel the flutter hitting your ear drums – a delightful treat for audiophiles and synth geeks.

As the track builds up, the more supportive rhythmic and percussive elements provide a very spacious stereo image, with the more driving 808-esque kick and 16th note snare hits reminiscent of Portishead‘s “Machine Gun”, providing the solid foundation for the choir of vocals (provided by Jonna Lee and possibly a few other voices or variations of manipulated layers of Jonna’s voice) that fade in with a few other snyths.

As quickly as the beat begins to lather, a drop in layers and breakdown of the build up gradually takes place, allowing room for the vocals and lyrics to be represented and boy are they unique! At least four vocal tracks, from the main vox, to whispers, to harmonies, to reverb aux’s, are all present within the verses of “; John” and when the entire mixing process for the vocals change when the chorus hits, it’s an interesting experimentation of a more raw sound, which is partly because of the switch in EQ’s, background layers, and a more prominent reverb and extremely slight delay, but possibly (don’t quote me on this one, pure speculation) the result of using two different microphones for the main vocals. One mic for verses, a different one for the chorus.

Above all, the track relies on layers, build up, breakdown, and the reliance of reverb to give a cutting edge grit sound, while keeping in mind a ethereal depth. Lyrical content is also important, is it tells a growing concept, which is what the project is known for. “Used to be clean, now I’m filthy as can be. Raise me up, I’m your slut.” are some powerful reoccurring phrases within the song which give the track more power.

It’s all very Iamamiwhoami signature sound. It’s all very cryptic. Everything can have multiple meanings, even musically. It’s gorgeous and I can’t thank Jonna Lee & Co. for continuing the project when we all thought it was over. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Speculation: I hear a dog barking on the break between the first verse and the chorus and also a male vocalist, or, again, a wet Jonna (har, har) vox, mixed low in the choir build up that is present throughout the track and also in the second verse during the phrase “now I’m granting you oil/art/all/on/whatever she says”

What do you think? I know you Iamamiwhoami fans are quite the talkative bunch (I often leave comments under the screen name RJ Eclectica). Leave a comment below! And check out ForsakenOrder’s video Analysis!

Track rating: 4.5/5

Purchase “; John”

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14 Responses to Track Review: Iamamiwhoami – ; John

  1. Tomw54 says:

    Lovely review.

    I agree, quite gorgeous – at the very very least, a delight for the ears simply on a sound level. Oh how I would love to get a WAV and pop on some decent headphones!

    I found this track to be reminiscent of the first two and last teasers – in some ways the flighty ‘synth-yet-organic’ sound (that encouraged Goldfrapp speculation) was never really 100% realised in the full-length B.O.U.N.T.Y. tracks. Here, IMO, it is fully realised and feels like a return to the roots of the project, short discography notwithstanding.

    Don’t me wrong, I LOVED B, O, U, N, T & Y – but this in some ways feels like a full delivery on what the teasers promised.


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