Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Album Review - Jo Mango - Transformuration

The main question that comes to mind upon listening to Jo Mango’s latest release Transformuration  (Olive Grove Records) is how can a contemporary folk album as beautiful as Murmuration  (2012) possibly get any better?  It might not be easy to imagine Mango’s sublime original any differently, but it’s always interesting to see a creative work reinterpreted so we’re going in with an open mind.

In a clever nod to the original album title, Transformuration  - which was released on very limited edition orange cassette tape as part of this year's Cassette Store Day - sees a group of talented and recognised international artists such as ex-Frightened Rabbit guitarist Gordon Skene (aka Fraction Man), Cycad, Adem and Ben TD, amongst others, collectively impress their mark upon the original album tracks in the form of some daring and exciting remixes.

The atmospheric feel of the original album with themes like the sun, the moon, love and loss are still comfortingly present in this incarnation but, as with most remixes, with added beats, intense layers of sound and effects, and some stripping-down as well.  The track Cross Ties (Fraction Man Remix)  stands out in particular. It’s dark, moody and immediate, subtly interweaving elements of the original but with a harder, more urban feel.

Every Certainty (Cycad Remix)  also impresses with haunting layers of echo added to Mango’s already ethereal voice.  Another outstanding gem is Adem’s surreal remix of Cordelia.  The original, charming song is warped in parts and the vocals are playfully altered, giving it a trippy and dreamlike quality and making this brilliant track a good case for remixes in general.

Like most interpretative works, the remixes on Transformuration  shouldn’t have to fit into the categories of better or worse, but rather, viewed as different.  It can be more enjoyable to stop comparing and simply listen, and with every listen, it becomes clear Transformuration  is a work of collective beauty in its own right.

- Janet Feenstra

Jo Mango - Transformuration  is released on 13th October 2014 via Olive Grove Records.  With the limited edition cassette tapes now sold out, the album can be pre-ordered here.

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