Mp3 Killed the Vinyl DJ 8: Jana Hunter

Jana Hunter side of split LP with Devendra Banhart [.zip, 192kbps vinyl rip]

Jana Hunter occupies an odd space, not quite fitting in with the suburban-garden-goblin-gone-metropolitan-hippie-bohemian fantasy crowd, nor with more brooding singer-songwriters whose words dribble derision on the stock sentiment of «love & light.» In equal measure, there's something for nerds and something for Nihilists on Hunter's albums.

Although far more subtle than most exponents of Freak-Folk/Weird-Nu-Americana-whatnot, Hunter is one of its most remarkable artists—in part because she's more subtle. There's no sunny San Fran fluff here, nor contrived eccentricity; what there is, is a certain kind of mumbly murk that sets her work apart from sunshine psychedelia and willfully naïve folk, and is more reminiscent of, say, Skip Spence or Sly Stone (ca. There's a Riot Goin' On)—only without that nervous breakdown feel to it.

Yet it's not doom & gloom; there's humour, there's positivity. The good and the bad are inextricably interwoven, not separable at all in Hunter's recordings. Everything simply is as it is, as Hunter reports it without judgment, obsession or attachment. This may be the closest popular music gets to Buddhist mysticism, simply by virtue of the music just being itself, without contrivance. There seems to be no agenda, no message, no ambition, even. What you get is merely what it says on the tin.

Not that it's easy to read what it says on that there tin. Everything about the words and music seems to occupy the space in between the lines. There doesn't appear to be a commitment towards anything, and although that may sound boring, it's actually a kind of revelation, as Hunter tiptoes through a minefield of masculine hatred and feminine love, guiding you safely to somewhere you've never even thought about, where no one wants to crush, own, smother, penetrate, enter or subsume you. And surely, the sweetest embrace is a lullaby telling you (as on personal favourite «Black Haven») «to never, ever wake up»?

These tracks are all from an untitled, out-of-print, split vinyl-only album released in 2005 on Troubleman Unlimited, with Devendra Banhart on the other side. My transfer is a bit shoddy, I'll admit, but Toilet Guppies makes no excuses: This is what vinyl sounds like, and when they only released the material on this format, that's what you get. I'm not about to spend hours «restoring» music I bought new and mint on a supposedly superior format. These transfers are still far, far better than nothing. Or, if you're a Nihilist, damn near as good as nuthin:
  1. «Black Haven»
  2. «A Bright-ass Light»
  3. «Crystal Lariat»
  4. «That Dragon Is My Husband»
  5. «Laughing & Crying»
Don't forget to enjoy.

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