Boomkat Product Review:
Jonnine Standish of HTRK returns with a divine third solo release of humanist pop and ornate (im)perfection with the down-home strums and gentility of ‘Maritz’ for DJ Sundae’s Idle Press, following cult turns for our Documenting Sound series and Good Morning Tapes.
Written and recorded at home in the Dandenong Ranges outside Naarm, Australia, with a spectra of scavenged instruments, ‘Maritz’ takes its title from the maiden name of Jonnine’s mother - “the most haunted word I know” - which signifies the music’s childlike innocence and spiritual provenance, wrapped in supremely blunted azure vapors and ruff, mossy fuzz.
Using bass guitar, a broken Swiss metronome, an oddly tuned wooden stringed instrument, recorder, Halloween charm bracelets and a homemade glockenspiel found at “an abandoned highschool in the hills”, plus spare additional instrumentation from Conrad Standish, James Rushford and Maria Moles, the eight songs of ‘Maritz’ span gonzo snapshots of domestic songcraft blessed with the sort of blissful melancholy that has long made Jonnine’s work such a staple of our musical diet.
Stripped to the barest essence of vocals and animated objets, the songs float daydreamy between the unforgettable lilt + hook of ‘I Put A Thing In Your Pocket’ to a pair of gorgeous baroque dub-bops fleshed with wavey recorder-as-melodica in ‘Tea for Two (Boo)’ and ‘Portrait’, while ‘There’s Nothing There’ is the sort of delicacy that we’d imagine Audrey Horne would play in private, and the groggy recorder set to offbeat metronome in ‘Three Spider Bites’ parallels the eerieness of recent work by Jonnine’s pal Laila Sakini - pushed even further into corporeal fantasy. ‘Blissfully Unaware (of you)’, meanwhile, most closely resembles the instrumental wonder of Matt Johnson’s The The at their most emotionally blitzed.
Like her last album ‘Blue Hills’, ‘Maritz’ is distinguished from Jonnine’s HTRK gear by a relative absence of studio embellishment or dynamic, preferring to leave songs lingering in a room-recorded air that conjures the feel of Alan Lomax folk recordings in the field, with incidental subtropical sounds carried thru open windows. Brittle and timeless, these are songs with an unhurried logic that feels antithetical to modern pressures, just happy to exist in their own temporal space.
It’s a rare privilege to spend time in Jonnine’s company. Pull up, and lean in.