CHON – Homey (Album Review)
As the world struggles with an onslaught of serious issues, it’s nice to be able to take a break every now and again and just have some fun. CHON provide an ideal soundtrack for said festivities; their back catalogue is crammed with cutesy cleans, playful and mostly instrumental math-based tunes, and good vibes aplenty. Up to this point, these guys have emphasised the clean side of instrumental guitar – but on Homey, their focus has firmly shifted.
Having teamed up with Eric Palmquist, whose production credits include Thrice and The Mars Volta, CHON have finally embraced the weird and wonderful world of freaky noises. Incorporating a vast variety of super-powered gizmos (including several devices conceived by the Ohio-based sonic scientists over at Earthquaker Devices) in addition to the pianistic compositional approach CHON fans know and love, the tracks present on Homey represent the kind of bold leap forward every progressive band’s fans yearn for them to make. Although CHON are obviously not the first instrumentalists to employ effects, they still manage to make it sound as if such boxes of wonder had just been invented.
Such an odd but fascinating feat is made possible by the simple fact that CHON are an inventive band. Having mostly held back on one of the guitar world’s most fundamental elements for so long and made themselves practically synonymous with squeaky-clean sparkliness in the meantime, hearing CHON unleash their most torrential and gritty leads to date on the likes of Checkpoint, Here And There, The Space, Continue? and Wave Bounce feels super impactful – and that’s only one relatively stock aspect of the total guitaristic experience. Opener Sleepy Tea feels appropriately thick and soupy; Waterslide benefits from some well-timed wah work; and No Signal’s introductory volume swells, closing stabs, 7/4 time signature, Guthrie Govan-style solo section, and brief glitchiness add up to a strong personal highlight.
That said, the remaining one third of Homey sees CHON boldly explore even fresher territory. In the past, remixes of their work have cropped up online – but here, CHON themselves collaborate with a hand-picked set of electronically-oriented creatives, with strong results. For me, GoYama’s glitchy downtempo contribution Berry Streets and Nayhoo (another downtempo dive featuring the talents of both Masego and Lophiile, as well as R&B and trap elements aplenty and smooth and soulful vocals) won out over the Giraffage-flavoured Feel This Way and ROM-powered Glitch – and those first two tunes are absolutely sick. The fewer limits CHON impose on themselves, the more exciting the song.
Given that progressive music is all about progression, CHON have again proven themselves worthy members of its upper echelons.
LTK RATING: 95% (Essential Listening!)
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