Monday, May 16, 2011

On Repeat: Jamie Woon - Spirits

Jamie Woon doesn't exactly have an R&B pedigree. His mother was a Scottish folk singer, his father of Malaysian descent. So how does he sound like Jamiroquai by way of dubstep icon Burial? I can't answer that for you, except to tell you that if there are any other half-Scottish half-Malaysian children out there, give them a record contract post-haste. His new album, Mirrorwriting, is chock full of his saintly vocal curlicues and the telltale splashes and muddy production of dubstep. While dubstep frequently eschews vocals in favor of atmospherics, Woon's voice turns out to be the perfect compliment for it. Many of the highs on Mirrorwriting bring to mind the most arresting moments on Burial's Untrue, namely the masterful Archangel.

Spirits meanders innocuously for nearly a minute, Woon's voice softly reverberating amidst a chorus of "oohs and ahhs" and something that sounds like a busy bartender. Once the snare drums kick in, conditions improve substantially, with the drums retreating underwater to give Woon some space, before rushing back in for the chorus. The song feels simple and even forgettable upon first listen, until you find yourself humming 'Ladies and Gentlemen' 5 minutes later and can't seem to remember where it came from. Then you will play it again in hopes of rattling it out of your head like shaking a dime out of a plugged piggy bank. Good luck. It's been stuck in my brain for weeks, maybe this blog post will finally exorcise it.    

Note: The video below is the official music video for Spirits, but is a bit different than the album version. Still great, though.

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