Jordaan Mason’s early 2015 record The Decline of Stupid Fucking Western Civilization, and the last release from Mason we owls covered, was one whose strength lied, in part, in its unreservedness. The record was filled with sprawling experimental tracks, none of which were under five minutes, and gave listeners an unedited and vivid insight into Mason’s world.
Form Less, Mason’s most recent release, is the result of Mason isolating themselves for two weeks to finish fragmented thoughts and ideas that had formed during their year at grad school. Unlike The Decline, Form Less‘ songs are short—these fragmented thoughts and ideas are rounded off only slightly; there is no excess here. Despite their brevity, that striking quality that was found in Mason’s longer songs is found here too. In each song, Mason gets right to the heart of love, growing pains, the complete shittiness that is the gender binary, and so much more with such clarity and emotion it takes your breath away.
The album is a lo-fi production recorded at home so we’re thrown right into the space where Mason’s original ideas came from. In “Aphasia” a creaky piano rattles the same window Mason runs to in their dream, probably punched later while exclaiming, “everything I wear feels like a costume.” The plucks of Mason’s guitar in “Ethic of Encounter” reverberate off the same wall that earlier had the sun dancing on it, a moment of hope: “you have got to believe that things can transform.” The harmonium of the hymnal-like “Plural” draws the long afternoon shadows into their room. The spoken-words of “Map on the Body” is akin to the terrifying closeness of night.
Album opener “They Harmonize” is one of my favourite songs of 2016. It has that standing in front of your crush’s window with “In Your Eyes” blasting through a boombox type vibe to it. Except instead of your crush’s house you’re pacing up and down your street and instead of a boombox it’s a megaphone and instead of “In Your Eyes” it’s you screaming your frustrations with the world.
Jordaan Mason makes important music. Maybe it’s cliche to say but in this, their 10th release, Mason’s strength is immense and their art is necessary.
Top Tracks: “They Harmonize”; “Plural”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)