City life today is a fast paced game. Packages can arrive at our doors within an hour of purchase, emails are sent and received within seconds of each other and the expectation of what should be accomplished in one day’s time seems to mount daily. These new features of city life come with hints of fear and unease. Is this natural? Are we meant to move this fast? Cue the calls for a “simpler life” and getting more “down to earth.”
On the album, Odd Apple Radio, recorded, produced and mixed by John Charles Lippi a.k.a. “Juano,” none of this is mentioned. However, modernity and the questions that accompany it ooze from the psychedelic, existential music. For a producer that transitions between Brooklyn and Los Angeles, it doesn’t seem too far fetched.
Odd Apple Radio, a delicious free styled jazz and electronic experience, showers us with sounds that encapsulate modern life and the unease that creeps up beneath the cracks. Although distinctly contemporary and fresh, it carries notes of the ’20’s jazz age, as well as the ’70’s. Fears of modernity and increasingly fast-paced lives were noticeably present at those times as well.
Although not a hip-hop artist, Juano Lippi’s patchwork use of sound and experimental jazz vibe aligns closely with J Dilla, especially on an album like Donuts. At times, Lippi could also be compared to Beck, Ween, the summer vibe of Santana, or even the vocals of Sublime. Lippi’s sounds seem to be plucked from everywhere sound is created; radio waves, the ocean floor or a subway station.
Juano Lippi’s music is above all mysterious. It’s James Bond meets villainous alley cat blues. On the track “Playground Blues” for instance, Lippi repeatedly asks “Do you wanna play?” The music is sinister, but also terribly inviting. Sounds akin to a vintage video game rumble in the background. Lippi repeats this question on a later track, “Do You Want To Play?” twisting the knife on an already ominous album that admittedly puts me on edge (in the best way possible).
Odd Apple Radio maintains a sense of liquidity and flow between tracks. However, no cohesive message or story reveals itself. I made up my own story. Of course, there are many other interpretations that could be argued for. This mystery represents an accomplishment for Lippi, not a failure. The peculiar, enticing music that remains throughout the album holds it together. Stories don’t always need to be known.
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