Jonti – Tokorats
The return of Jonti isn’t as popularly anticipated as some of the mega-indie comebacks of the past year or so, but for those who care – and there’s still a lot of us – the release of Tokorats is significant. It has been well over five years since Jonti’s last album and that just feels too long for someone of Jonti’s immense talent and ambition.
Tokorats is a diverse display of what the artist can do as both a producer and performer. This means he covers a fair bit of ground stylistically, but it all comes together smoothly.
The laidback hip hop of ‘Alien’ drifts delicately into the dream pop of ‘Sleeping and Falling’. Zuki has a vintage jazz-funk vibe with a little 60s psych thrown in for good measure, while ‘Love Prayer’ is a sweet, gentle piece of 60s folk-worship that would catch you off-guard if you heard it out of context – but it’s a perfect fit next to ‘Maria’ which follows.
‘Island Rose’ is a good example of how his dreamy, thoughtful productions can work in the more traditional hip hop production sense – in tandem with a rapper. Sampa The Great sounds as excellent as ever as she raps and sings over his quirky, gentle, spacey beat.
Later, Odd Future alumni Hodgy slots into ‘Animah’ perfectly – unsurprising given that Jonti worked on Hodgy’s debut album last year.
You can’t say comparisons to The Avalanches are unavoidable – you could easily just not mention them – but it’s not fair to either party to dismiss the immense influence that group had on Jonti’s work. The fact he now serves as a touring member of the group doesn’t even factor here; he’s clearly been inspired by the way they construct their luscious, dreamy pop with a hip hop sensibility. And he takes power from their unwillingness to bow to genre limitations.
But Jonti is strong enough as a producer to rely on his own gut instincts, which is what gives Tokorats its real heart. It’s a work of great beauty, ambitious without being too confounding and fun without being too frivolous.
If you’ve got a soft spot for quality hip hop and atmospheric pop and you’re after an album better suited for headphones than a slamming party, you need Tokorats in your life.