With his fourth release as My Fun, Justin Hardison brings listeners a fascinating, inverted listening experience on “Sonorine.” With each track presented as a “postcard” of sound– hence the title, which refers to the now-antiquated souvenir records made for fun at tourist locales– it becomes clear that unlike most albums, Hardison has already made the journey and is ‘reporting back’ to the listener.
It’s a simple, but delicious, way of turning the listening experience on it’s head. And although the disc’s glassine layers of pianos, birdcalls, traffic sounds, and radio are nothing like early psychedelic music; it’s interesting to note that the artist/listener relationship is similar: Hardison has been on a trip, and wants to tell us all about it. It was only later on that artists could safely assume listeners had turned-on adequately to understand what was happening.
For those first experiencing “Sonorine,” it’s much the same– a pleasant, but bewildering earful of a highly-realistic world, albeit one much unlike our own. On “Phonopostal,” (my favorite track, incidentally) Hardison introduces the listener into what seems an ordinary environment– the tinkling of a piano, and some sort of mechanical sound. But then… well, it all comes loose. With a loud ‘thunk,’ this (and I’m imagining a Victorian drawing room) sprouts legs, propelling itself slowly through an aviary where distant train noises merge with the grandfather clock’s clangorous intonation. The drawing room has become a steampunk, bizarro-world dark ride now. Applying the brakes, Hardison startles a flock of sea birds.
The production of “Sonorine” is basically a real treat. For those willing to put in the effort necessary to consider the ‘where’ and ‘how’ of the sounds, and to accept the notion that these are postcard recordings of places; the album becomes quite fantastic. Sounds that are ordinarily small take a front-and-center position, while other sounds move in ways dissimilar to their more ordinary counterparts. At times, the listener realizes the most peculiar situations must have occurred to generate such a milieu– and if you can hold that surprised feeling without coming back to earth, you may just find yourself wherever it is that Hardison has visited.
Ignore the terrible review from Vital Weekly (with the crackhead money quotes, “no prize for originality given here” and “it could almost be a real CD release” ) –this disc is highly recommended.