There are many musicians who adapt their sound as they move through their careers. Jay-Jay Johanson is one of these artists as his music has transitioned between trip-hop and electroclash, while still holding onto his identity as he releases his tenth studio recording: Opium. Furthermore, Johanson has managed to gain a following in main-land Europe (even hitting the French Top 20 Albums in 1998 and 2000 with Tattoo and Poison).
With “Moonshine” (the lead single from Opium), Johanson unleashes his signature melancholia-infused vocal to great effect while layering guitars, bass, drums and a stand-out part on keyboard that is an unnerving, consistent presence throughout this creepy track. While, stylistically, “Moonshine” is miles away from the Portishead-influenced trip-hop he was known for in the late ’90s, it still holds a harrowing aesthetic. “Like in the movies, you say” JJJ croons before talking about “your tragic end” with a sense of impending doom. With the likes of Ennio Morricone in mind, he’s referring to loving someone who isn’t necessarily good for you. Johanson’s voice is the focal point of this song, and rightly so, as it induces the feeling you get while watching a grim scene in one of the movies he references: you don’t want to look away, no matter what happens.
Jay-Jay Johanson’s new album, Opium is out now on Kwaidan Records, and features collaborations with Robin Guthrie (of Cocteau Twins) and Funkstörung. The album makes nods to many greats in music including; Massive Attack, Ennio Morricone and Cocteau Twins and features tastes of a number of genres. You can buy the album on iTunes here.
In support of Opium, Jay-Jay is set to appear in London at Birthdays on 16th June.
Originally written by me for Forty5