To date, the stream from Montreal’s johnny_ripper has revealed an artist with a keen sense for the sublime and an overactive ear for obscure source material. These glimpses into a late night nirvana of sorts have for the most part been singular, made by (and for) a loner. Which makes the multi-medium “Observer (Natalie’s Song)” an interesting development.
Last April, Jean attended a friend’s show that opened with readings. Natalie Reid (pictured below, credit: Jeremy Clarke) recited her words from memory, leaving Jean, in his words, “devastated.” With notions of self-image and perception, the piece existentially resonated, like a direct counter to the “isolated headspace” Jean functions in. It stayed with him, and after some time, he reached out “as a stranger” to collaborate. From there, we now hear this: that night’s lines underscored by Jean’s beats, all formed from field recordings (keys, glass cracks, door knocks, light switches, bicycle bells and beyond) and a micro-sampling of Clara Rockmore’s “Song of Grusia”.
The theme continues across johnny_ripper’s upcoming album, Selfless, his first since 2014’s epilogue.