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When Jo Johnson Met Hilary Robinson

And the resulting Antenna Echoes

Jo Johnson and Hilary Robinson’s album Antenna Echoes has its origins in chance and error: a meeting in a shared neighborhood, and a broken piano. The result of those external influences is a Covid-era collaboration of deeply interior music, all cavernous echoes and warm feedback. Piano is the near constant through the album’s three tracks (“Maze Echoes,” “Antenna Gain,” “Fresh Air and the Usual Low-grade Hedonism”), but it would be inaccurate to claim its presence necessarily grounds the plush synthesizer and pervasive sound-design drones. Quite the contrary, what makes the piano so central is just how ambiguous is the place where its familiar physicality meets the ethereal context in which it is heard. The piano bleeds into the broader sonic construct of the recording, in part due to its repair status. As explained in the album’s liner note, the piano suffers from “a faulty pedal mechanism, which sustained the notes long after they were played.” Or perhaps not suffers. More to the point it is, in fact, a blessing. As one Bandcamp listener said, “Please don’t ever fix that piano.”

The record, which is available at jojohnson.bandcamp.com, was released in early July. More from Johnson at soundcloud.com/werkhouse and twitter.com/werkhouse. More from Robinson at about.me/hilaryrobinson.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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