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Memories of Nowhere

EP Review

Memories of Nowhere by Jonny Fallout

Author: Cocaine for Toothaches

Doom. Sweet, sweet, blissful doom.

I’m sitting here staring at the album cover artwork for this new (as of writing), almost-but-as-yet-not-quite-released EP Memories of Nowhere by electronic artist Jonny Fallout, and I’m trying to understand what it’s telling me. An astronaut on the beach, waves lapping at moonboots, staring over the ridgeline of the cove into the sky containing a frightfully close trio of planets; everything dipped in fuchsia. The planets in the sky are so close that the planet on which the astronaut stands maybe only has 10 minutes before gravitational oblivion.

So what am I to learn? That I should learn to appreciate the beauty around me while it lasts, because this fleeting mortal coil is doomed? That the facts are far to close shows that this is an illusion, and therefore all existence might be an illusion, and so quit worrying because nothing is realand this illusion of  a mortal coil is doomed? That, even when standing at the ocean, there are bigger problems than sharks so I’m doomed in or out of the water? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s teaching me that I over-analyze everything to the point where I’m no fun anymore. Having said all that, here’s my not-at-all overindulgent nor over-analyzed take on Memories of Nowhere.

Icy synthesizer arpeggios.
Warm synth pad.
Chiming synth melody.
And then the magical, ethereal touch—that guitar.
Tasteful, tasteful atmospheric guitar courtesy of Kevin Hartman. I just kept repeating “tasteful, tasteful guitar” to myself over and over again when first hearing this track. I like this track. “Cold War Ballad,” despite the title, calms the nerves. I was surprised when I learned the vocals on all these songs were samples. On this song in particular, it sounds like there’s an actual vocalist recording along with the track, showing very great sample manipulation. 

I’m always excited to hear an album for the first time, and I’m always very curious about how the first track will hit me. Well, this one hit me nice. It’s typical to start an album, especially a dance-related album, with a track that gets people fired up, but that is subverted here. Interesting choice this, to lead off with a half-time electronic pop ballad-esque number. Personally I would have flipped the first two tracks in order. There’s just something about half-time drums that tend to take me to that place- when the world is hectic and stressful. I seem to undergo a very visceral experience of having a half-time drum beat physically slow my heartbeat and metabolic rate to match. I can feel the endocrine system ease up, neural activity cools, heartrate moderates, and I involuntarily sway, and the mind-brain (props to Dr. Krieger) just finds that place. As odd as I thought it was to start the album this way, this song puts me in that place. That Shangri-La of music fandom. The transcendental place in the universe, when a piece of music hits just right. That place.

Could it be that this was the right answer the whole time? It’s hard to argue against.

On Fire” starts with a synth bass line. Yes, I’m serious, it really does. Imagine, if you will, Rocky Balboa punching sides of beef in cold storage. That’s this synth bass riff—cold and meaty, and it hits hard. Yet it speaks with much more clarity. There are even-more-spaced-out guitar riffs, perfectly placed in space to complement but not override this dance track. Bring in the whooshes and off-beat staccato synths and we’ve got ourselves a synth dance banger. More great vocal sample manipulations enter that don’t sound amateur or unnatural. This track has the proper energy to be a great dance hit. There are enough changes in dynamics with everything except drums to keep it from growing stale. And the additional guitars at the very end that are so gritty as to actually sound like they’re on fire is a nice touch.

“That Shangri-La of music fandom. The transcendental place in the universe, when a piece of music hits just right…”

 

The third track, “Dreaming the Truth,” has more of a synthwave feel in sound, tempo and
instrumentation. And now we start to see the use of spoken-word samples mixed in (which will continue on the last track). The main vocal (sung) sample has a sweet and laid-back feel, pulling back against the beat and feel ever so slightly, to nice effect. That vocal, though, seems to have noticable saturation/distortion on it, and I’m not sure that fits the feel of this song. I don’t feel as though there should be grit in the vocal here. There is a solid, long-note bass synth working, which is the only thing in “Cold War Ballad” I wish I had but didn’t get. Hartman’s guitars add a memorable counter-melody when it appears after choruses, separating out the call-and-response trope. The swelling pads that breathe in and out, more audible during the quiet parts, really augment the atmospheric feel of this track.

The EP’s closer, “Down the Rabbit Hole,” delves into technology sci-fi (or is it sci-fact?) and is reliant on spoken audio quips rather than singing. Hartman employs a much more aggressive guitar tone and approach, but the mix is still such that it doesn’t overpower everything else going on. The pace is a bit more frenetic, but only in spurts. There is room and space to catch your breath. There are plenty of breaks in the action to let the vocal clips shine. Many synths are happening by the end.

And just then, the album ends, with a single truncated synth note fading out with echo as everything else is cut off in a whoosh.

Leave ’em wanting more.

If you want to dance, move, groove, sway, or just reminisce about times when you could do those things, do yourself a favor and grab this album. If you want to listen to something that just sounds good, do Jonny Fallout a favor and grab this album. If you think that an EP is just not enough and you want more, call JF on his personal hotline during the small hours of the night and beg for a continuation. I’m sure he won’t mind.

A recurring theme in my head from listening to this project several times is just how good it sounds. The production is on-point: the layers of instrumentation make the sound full but not to the point of overcrowding; the overall sounds is clean and balanced; nothing sticks out as harsh or distracting. This is great credit to the mixer (Jonny Fallout) and mastering engineer (Von Hertzog at Social Club). Everything I’ve heard from these two recently has just been outstanding from a technical and listening-pleasure level. This album is sonically put together on a professional level, and really makes for an enjoyable listen. The creative choices and song structure as well thrive—nothing sounds over-indulgent, no section sounds out of place, and all of the parts are well-executed and brought together cohesively.

The songs are so good that I keep wanting more every time I listen through. It’s getting teased in the best way.

Memories of Nowhere released on November 22nd, 2022 under Retro Reverb Records and can be purchased, HERE

Credits: guitar—Kevin Hartman
mastering—Von Hertzog/Social Club
written, produced, mixed—Jonny Fallout
You can find Jonny Fallout here:

email: jonnyfallout@gmail.com

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About the author: Coke has been around music a long, long time. As a child in a family of musicians and in-and-around a family-owned studio in the 1980’s, he has seen the ups and downs of the music scene and lifestyle. He plays/has played several instruments including piano/keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, and even dabbled on low brass and drums for a bit, as well as being a bang-average vocalist. Coke studied (and won departmental awards in) composition, theory, and classical guitar performance during undergraduate work, as well as taught private guitar lessons for children and adults. He spent ten years (up until the pandemic) as a superstar guitarist/bassist/musical director in the CCM world, before crashing down to earth, humbly surrendering all that non-existent fame and fortune for the quiet life. He now endeavors on synthwave-adjacent music, working as a shipping boss, and living with his wife and (some of) his six grown children in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, USA.

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