Music review: Jonathan Wilson, 'Fanfare' (the short version: it's a masterpiece)

Longtime Boing Boing friend Richard Metzger of Dangerous Minds turned me on to Jonathan Wilson a couple years ago, and I became an instant fan. He slipped me a copy of Wilson's new album, "Fanfare," before its release date--I am obsessed with it.

I agree with Metzger: best rock and roll album of the year. "No competition, nothing else even comes close," he rightly writes. Everyone else, put down your guitars and mothball your drums, it's over.

Metzger can write about music better than anyone I know, so I'm just going to share a little of his Dangerous Minds review here:

Fanfare’s seven-minute-long title track opener begins with the sound of baby chicks being fed through an Echoplex tape delay unit and builds into a tubular bell-laden, multi-layered tone poem from the artist meant to channel the perfect love song through his piano. As a declaration of intent, it’s a powerful statement. Plus the rest of the album has to live up to this. Talk about setting the bar high for yourself.

“From the initial idea of the record, I knew I wanted a concert Steinway piano to be the centerpiece—the beating heart—of Fanfare, Wilson told me. “So naturally we found a guy on Craigslist with one for sale and bargained with him to let us rent it for the entire session.”

“I was going for this sort of ‘widescreen’ sound, a blown out vista. I wanted strings, horns, bells, vibes, voices, solos, improvisation and a full orchestra on some of the tunes… I didn’t just want ‘a’ drum sound, I wanted it to sound like Thor’s snare sound, stuff like that. Having that 9-foot Steinway was central to achieving the sound that I wanted.” Fanfare was recorded to 2” analog tape and then mixed down to ½ inch tape at Jackson’s Browne’s Groove Masters studio in Santa Monica through a Neve 8078 analog console. The recording used a live echo chamber extensively.

Read the full Metzger review here, with some embedded audio. Then go buy the record.

I have seen Jonathan Wilson perform live, and you should too. He's touring. If he's anywhere near you, trust me, just go. What an amazing artist.

Jonathan Wilson, online: Facebook, Twitter, web, Soundcloud, Amazon. Buy the physical thing, not just the download! The lusciously NSFW centerfold by Kii Arens, who also did the cover art below, is just gorgeous.