In Review: Connan Mockasin & Ade - It's Just Wind
It’s Just Wind, released on 14th July 2021, is the latest landmark on Connan Mockasin’s winding journey into a cloudscape of colourful sounds, surreal lyrics and pure, unrestrained weirdness. A collaborative album between Mockasin and his father Ade, it became the aim for Mockasin to record an album with his dad after learning about his near-death experience, flatlining for a total of 40 minutes. Despite what could've been tragic circumstances, Mockasin is irreverent as ever, and it clearly runs through the family. "Doesn’t anybody shag anymore?" laments a fairy-tale wolf in the opening track, setting up the strange scenery for an album that would be better described as a collection of experiments gathered last-minute from a hectic musical laboratory.
This album, like Mockasin’s other releases, comes across as a performance of an elaborate joke. His previous release, Jassbusters also refused to take itself too seriously, being accompanied by a “five part melodrama” directed by and starring Mockasin. The scant references to a story in that album did little to shed much light on the narrative of the “melodrama”. Who is 'Momo'? Why 'Charlotte’s Thong'? Judging by Mockasin’s mumbled falsetto lyrics, it is unlikely that it matters.
The intervening two years have done little to change the New Zealand virtuoso’s mischievous style of half-finished, mock storytelling. The seemingly profound title, It’s Just Wind, is in fact a reference to flatulence. Right from the first track, the fairy tale setting collapses almost instantly into total silliness. Even the later reflections from Connan’s ageing father himself provoke laughter from their sheer bluntness: “I still think work is shit...work is crap”.
The musical range of It’s Just Wind deserves credit that could be too easily forgotten amidst the distracting weirdness of the whole show. 'What It Are', only one-minute long, comprises a funk-rhythmed, off-beat collection of punchy basslines, palm-muted guitar licks and blues riffs resembling kazoo solos, more danceable than anything else in Connan’s repertoire. In contrast, 'Round Peg in a Square Hole', a full fourteen minutes long, combines cinematic chord progressions and absurdly extended guitar solos to conjure an atmosphere of utterly indulgent, (even slightly dreary) melodrama. Falling somewhere in between, tracks like 'Te Awanga' and 'It’s Just Wind', form a more recognisable collection of catchy Mockasin tunes, though with new jumps, stops, starts and distorted effects thrown in for decoration.
Placed alongside albums such as Jassbusters and Caramel, it is hard to view It’s Just Wind as being in the same league. Messier, disjointed tracks such as 'Stuck' leave us wondering how much Mockasin is setting out to test our patience. But underneath the performative weirdness and blunt one-liners, Mockasin’s irresistibly lush synth chords and cascading, reverb-heavy guitar riffs make the music strangely mesmerising. Despite having played alongside the likes of James Blake, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and MGMT, Connan Mockasin remains unclassifiable. His unique blend of psychedelia, indie rock, jazz, ambient music, and anything else that is lying around, has remained untainted by anything like predictability. Despite its weaker moments, It’s Just Wind leaves us feeling grateful for Connan Mockasin’s persistent weirdness.
It's Just Wind is out now via Mexican Summer.