Volume 1: Spiralling
Jon Free’s previous band Penthouse were held up in comparison to such filthy delights as The Fall, The Birthday Party and all too often, The Jesus Lizard. When Penthouse split, Jon was quick to start a new band, Gin Palace with wife Meaghan. Gin Palace were described as “Pussy Galore meets Nancy & Lee” and “The Cramps beating up The White Stripes”. Jon has also been known to perform and record with such luminaries as Lydia Lunch and Jon Spencer.
Currently, Jon’s music is more akin to the sound of John Carpenter joining The Carpenters and channelling Throbbing Gristle. Think deconstructed blues and minimalist cowboy drone.
The music herein was improvised and recorded live over three nights to 2-track tape using a stereo ambient mic in a decommissioned former Church Of Christ in Emerald, rural Melbourne. No preparation, no planned destination, no overdubs.
I first saw Jon playing guitar with Penthouse some 20+ years ago. I have fond memories of trying to blag a pre-release copy of what was to be the bands final album at a show in London and not long after being witness to his guitar amp going up in smoke up mid-set with Gin Palace. Jon doesn’t quite remember either of these vivid moments in my life…I’m now doubting myself as to whether these things actually happened or not.
More recently I met Jon at a J.P Shilo show in Melbourne and embarrassed him with my fandom. Lucky for me (and you), this lengthy journey has resulted in Wild Animals Records being tremendously proud to be able to bring you ‘Volume 1: Spiralling’ by Jon Free.
Jon has only performed live as a solo artist once or twice but he will be playing a handful of shows to celebrate the release of this album along with Raul Sanchez and Bonnie Mercer. He will be joined on stage for a few numbers by his wife Meaghan (also of Gin Palace), a duo known as The Frees. With the addition of Meaghan the lyrical content swings seamlessly from staring into the heart of the climate crisis as created by the dysfunctional, neoliberal, capitalists society to the pains of last week's PTA meeting.
On this cassette and live, Jon plays his beautiful, hand-built, Tin-Tone Sonic Fascinator guitars (www.tin-tone.com
) as seen in the clammy hands of, among others, Seasick Steve, Thurston Moore, Mick Harvey and that Johnny Depp bloke.
"Jon plucks 'n' strokes better than Rowland S. Howard" - Melody Maker
"Spiralling was chopped out in an empty Melbourne church last year by Jon Free, who once wrestled punk rock guitar to the ground in Penthouse. In these contemplative improvisations Free makes his peace with the source. Yes, there's loops and dissonance, but Blind Willie Johnson, whose 1927 recording Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground was arguably the point where the blues first embraced abstraction, would understand. Late one night, as I realised the virus was a Vodou crossroads beyond which nothing would be the same, Spiralling settled upon me, a flicker of light in my foreboding." ~ Revered British comedian and columnist, Stewart Lee writing for Q Magazine’s ‘364 Albums To Blow Your Mind’ in Summer 2020.
released November 16, 2019
All music by Jon Free.