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Mo Troper: Troper Sings Brion Album Assessment

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“Why end a tune when you can begin a brand new one?” Jon Brion as soon as quipped to the New York Occasions Journal. It was 2003, and he was wrapping work on Fiona Apple’s as-yet unnamed third file. As soon as that was full, he informed the interviewer, he would concentrate on his personal music. A pair years prior, he had self-released his solo debut, Meaningless. The album featured his unshowy mastery of classic devices and a compositional sense indebted to the legendary singer/songwriters of ’70s Los Angeles: the precise qualities that had made Brion an in-demand session participant, author, and producer. However his label declined to place it out. Some mixture of that have, his perfectionism, and a gentle stream of outdoor work stored him from ever releasing a follow-up.

However new Brion materials did seem, in a way. In 2006, a set of his demos hit the blogopshere. They had been purportedly recorded in 1991 and 1995, earlier than and after he moved to Los Angeles. A unfastened and lo-fi set of earnest, harmonically subtle pop-rock, the demos had been revelatory to devotees of what Brion himself termed “unpopular pop.” Portland musician Mo Troper—who first encountered Brion by way of his hired-gun guitar on Jellyfish’s 1993 cult LP Spilt Milk—is a type of devotees. His newest album, Troper Sings Brion, is a tribute with a twist: These are all songs that Brion by no means formally launched. Troper’s current output has tended towards deconstruction: 90-second doses of pitch-shifted and saturated power-pop. However right here, he performs issues principally straight. Like Harry Nilsson did on the LP that this album’s title and Emma Parry’s cowl artwork riff on, Troper places his idiosyncrasies in service of the fabric. In doing so, he posits Jon Brion not as a composer or vibes service provider, however as an L.A. songwriter of the primary order.

Troper comes out swinging with “Into the Atlantic,” Brion’s sardonic tour of the recording-industry hellscape. There’s no demo recording of this tune accessible, just some stripped-down dwell bootlegs, so Troper weaves a pocket symphony round Brion’s quarter-note piano: Harp, Mellotron, and squeezebox dip out and in of the combination. The end result would match snugly on a file by Aimee Mann, who fought the identical label battles as Brion within the ‘90s, generally alongside him. Right here, the tune’s ambivalence about its personal destiny makes it the perfect intro for a set of unreleased tunes: “And when it is time to baptize your personal child/By no means thoughts that dorsal fin/And throw the little morsel in.”

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