Unknown Pleasures #13 ft. Michna, Surfalot, Jonnie Common



As our weekly new music column reaches its teens, Getintothis’ Patrick Clarke uncovers the best in animated electronica, resplendent neo-pop and something very unusual indeed.

Breathing life into instrumental electronica is the trickiest of tasks, but on She Exists In My Mind Brooklyn’s Michna offers nothing short of a masterclass in the act. An opening spell of inverted wobbles and keys is enticing if a little by-numbers, but as an assertive beat of flashing drums begins to kick under a second glitchy infusion the track becomes anything but.

Full name Adrian Yin Michna, the producer and DJ’s been in the game since 1993, and it’s perhaps no surprise that his latest recalls the output of similar 90’s luminary DJ Shadow as it sporadically ebbs into  Number Song-ish pedestals for brief segments of nothing but a twisted beat. Overall though it’s a track that’s entirely Michna‘s own, a cut of instrumental hip-hop coated in enthralling idiosyncracy and careening in texture.

Surfalot, the project of Norwegian singer-songwriter Bendik Johnsrud, meanwhile sticks more firmly to straight-up pop, though in enticing fashion, his debut My My Oh My flaunting quite the ear for melody. It’s a deftness finely tuned, and one sharpened close to home – the artist’s three years at LIPA saw the title of Guitarist of the Year come his way, presented by none other than Sir Macca himself.

Surfalot (image by Olav Stubberud)

Surfalot (image by Olav Stubberud)

Though his time on Merseyside is cited as quite the influence it’s still an undercurrent of the Nordic that really lends the track its charms; there’s a certain wistful sparseness recalling Icelanders FM Belfast in a subtle injection of backing synth, Johnsrud‘s gently accented lilt the perfect complement to a simply sumptuous backing.

Last of all Glasgow’s Jonnie Common, formerly Down the Tiny Steps, is something else entirely, and not just to this column’s aforementioned artists – eccentric to a fault his latest outings Crumbs and Shark are an impossible pair to place, and for that they’re all the more agreeable. There’s hints of Arab Strap in Common‘s wandering spoken-word vocal, yet equally a smattering of Krautrock’s softer side in a measured, unwinding backing of repetitious synth.

In Crumbs, the superior effort, there’s an added dose of tender, acoustic samples of organic guitar and gently kinetic synths which swoon into the mix without a faultline in sight, while Shark sticks closer to straight-up momentum. Though generically defiant they’re aesthetically nothing short of mesmeric, an original sound of illustious depth.