For SJ Esau's Anticon debut, the Bristol-based bedroom virtuoso continues his masterful balance of sonic manipulation and songcraft across 12 alternately expansive and explosive tracks. You'll find Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse on the rarely tread common ground between Slint, Arab Strap, Fog, Sonic Youth and Mogwai (with Fennesz and Jim O'Rourke lurking in the shadows), which is to say, this is an album that successfully bridges genre-less explorations into sound to detailed composition, solo meanderings to inspired collaboration, a sense of humor to a sense of melancholy, and the listener to a unique world that could only be inhabited and operated by SJ Esau himself.
Sandwiched between homemade loops (and sometimes built atop them) are songs that gradually unfold to epic effect: "Wears the Control" sweeps and swoons like the soundtrack to an aerial view of a green mountain range; "The Wrong Order" is quiet and composed in contrast to its confusion-borne lyrics. There are songs that start calmly enough, then blast wide open in a hail of distortion and squelching strings or triumphant horns ("Cat Track" and "Geography," respectively). There are the decidedly dark songs (the lumbering and dastardly sounding "Queezy Beliefs") and the blithely buoyant ones as well ("All Agog"'s happy whirrs, warbles and crunchy distortion bring a lo-fi Flaming Lips to mind). Aurally, SJ Esau is helped out by a few local peers (most notably, long-time collaborator, multi-instrumentalist Max Milton), but lyrically he stands alone, singing unlikely anthems for the unsung and uneasy hero in each of us.
* immediate free MP3 download for all vinyl orders of this release.