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Connan Mockasin
Jassbusters Diva Harris , October 10th, 2018 13:53

Uncomfortable, unsettling, and a full-band revelation: Mockasin’s new album (plus film) is the saga of a not-okay relationship

Connan Mockasin, with his seedy spoof-sultry riffs, his croony vocals and his unsettling pillow-talk lyrics, makes me uncomfortable in the way that using somebody else’s toothbrush or being stared at by a cat while I’m having a wee makes me uncomfortable. His latest album Jassbusters is true to form, its squirm-inducing teacher-student relationship storyline tempered with the technical excellence of effortlessly fluid guitar and bass.

On first track ‘Charlotte’s Thong’, smooth, funky-as-heck instrumentation is overlaid with lyrics which are pretty indecipherable save for “Thong / That’s a thong” (move over, Sisqo). On ‘Last Night’, Mockasin – or his pleather-clad, alarming-wig-wearing music teacher alter-ego Bostyn – reminisces: “Last night / you blew me away / but you took your time / Patience is a lovely game,” and over ‘You Can Do Anything’ floats sinister spoken word: “You can do anything to get good grades… Anything.” The entanglement between teacher and pupil is further explored in Bostyn ’n Dobsyn – the five-part melodrama film made to be viewed before you listen to Jassbusters – but there’s not much more I can say about that as it’s strictly under wraps until after the album’s release. (Part one premieres at The Barbican next month.)

It was conceived as an album made by a band of music teachers, so fittingly Jassbusters is the first release where Mockasin is accompanied by a band – and it’s a revelation. His usual exaggeratedly washy, reverby sound is anchored and evolves into something fuller, groovier, twangier. This, combined with the emergence of a new Arthur Russell-style vocal (particularly evident on ‘Sexy Man’ and ‘Les Be Honest’), is a bit of game-changer. The album’s only weak spot is, perhaps, the inclusion of a collab track (‘Momo’s’) with the unremarkable James Blake after all these efforts towards the surreal. A self-serious maths teacher in a staff room of wild cards. On the whole though, good work, Connan. If 2013’s Caramel was a B-, then Jassbusters deserves a big fat red marker pen A.

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