new music:

TJO

“A Sunday 2020”

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words by tom johnson

photograph by sarah lyon

Last month we shared news of Annie Hart’s (Au Revoir Simone) new ambient project, which was recently released on the brilliant Orindal Records (Advance Base, Gia Margaret, Friendship). Now, the label continues its deep dive into instrumental improvisations with the announcement of a brand new piece of work from Tara Jane O’Neil, who performs as TJO and released last year’s fragmented and fascinating long-player Songs for Peacock.

Released towards the end of July, and available to preorder now, Dispatches from the Drift houses eleven new compositions and over an hour of music which drifts between ambient, electronic and new age inspirations. the alum was mastered by label mate Matt Bachmann and is presented as “a psychedelic sound diary”, much of which began life as voice memos, as TJO explains:

“Typically I use voice memos or computer programs to catch ideas and work out the really sticky ones. These pieces were recorded on iPhone or the computer program I use to monitor when I had the presence to press record. They were promptly forgotten. These are not sketches of ideas that may be revisited, these sounds were not looking for a form or seeking to be known. These are complete, traveling pieces that resolve or simply end. At the end of the dismal and seismic year called 2020, I found these improvisations on my phone or my hard drive while looking for those typical fragments of inspiration I could use to make into something else through the ordinary alchemical process of making songs.”

Shared here today as the album’s introduction, ‘Sunday 2020’ is one of only two songs that feature guitar – and the only song to include vocals – and it makes for an immediately absorbing foundation for what promises to be one of the summers most sheltering laments. “It meets certain criteria for inclusion here as the keyboard and wordless vocals were improvised just like the others,” O’Neil says of the album’s first song, which you can hear via its homemade video below. “However on this one I did use my old familiar hammer, the guitar for melodic shape.”

Quietly, delicately enrapturing, Dispatches from the Drift was born from a strange world in a strange time but its hard not to feel hope in these sounds; an elegant reminder that magic can always be stirred into existence, no matter the circumstances. “These found ambient pieces were not edited to feel narrative, and weren’t made with sharing in mind,” O’Neil says in conclusion. “Use them however you like.”

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