Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Jonah Parzen-Johnson

September 29, 2013


Jonah Parzen-Johnson‘s music may not have struck a chord with me if I hadn’t been introduced to Colin Stetson. Stetson makes whirring, blurring, mind-bending post-rock out of noises created entirely from a bass saxophone; Parzen-Johnson wrests similar noises out of a saxophone, but with more melodicism involved (and a lot less abject terror).

Parzen-Johnson’s two-song release Look Like You’re Not Looking includes the title A-side, which starts off in a loose, spacious rumination on something that sounds vaguely like “Amazing Grace.” The mid-section is full of modulated saxophone noise, turning it into a synthesizer of sorts. It’s very intriguing listening, if you’re like me and fascinated by the limits of analog sound. (This is exactly why I love Colin Stetson.) Then he pulls back suddenly, and finishes out the tune with some gentle, spacious notes. It’s a fascinating tune, one that’s really worth investigating for the sonically adventurous.

B-side “Stay There, I’ll Come To You” is less noticeably melodic and therefore less instantly engaging, but it takes the harmonic abilities of Parzen-Johnson’s songwriting style to levels that the a-side doesn’t attempt. This results in a hypnotic, enveloping sort of piece. If you’re into sonic experimentation, you should definitely check out what Jonah Parzen-Johnson is doing.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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