Dream-pop folk artist John White released his long overdue third solo album, “Inkadies” on Monkey Records. As a follow up to "Balloon Adventure"(2000) and "Mogwash"(2003), "The Inkadies" might be described as the third instalment of tales from a delicate otherland where little creatures called Inkadies come to save the day.
The album was recorded in Madison, Wisconsin by friend and fellow singer/songwriter, Tom Hanson. Gathering guest musicians from Madison's lush music scene, the album boasts chiming harmonies and dripping Synth accompaniments underneath John's dreamily relaxed vocals and gently strummed acoustic guitar.
John White is also the frontman for seminal Dunedin fuzz-pop band Mëstar and toured extensively with now defunct avante-popsters Cloudboy.
Cloudboy’s Demarnia Lloyd once upon a time said of him that she’d “discovered a boy who sings like angel” - Dunedin’s best kept secret has to be John White. His tenure fronting fuzz-pop trio Mëstar established him as a well loved songwriter in knowing circles, while White’s previous two solo albums (2000’s “Balloon Adventure” and 2003’s “Mogwash”) were the stuff that dreams are made of. Recorded in Madison, Wisconsin by musician Tom Hanson, “The Inkadies” (White’s first release in too many years) is an unofficial ending to a trilogy begun all those years ago.
Steady strummed acoustic guitars open the record on the self-titled first single - with John conjuring fantastical images of the hidden Inkadies keeping us safe in the night. “Distant Dreams and Morning Stars” follows, with a droning distorted guitar providing the canvas for layers of White’s nearly child-like and gentle voice. While it is one of the prettiest songs on the album, “The Boy That I Saw On That Day” is a dark tale of slicing off hands, cutting off ears, and plucking out eyeballs in frustration at not being believed - hinting at a more sinister side to the world of John White and his Inkadies. Clocking in at a brief twenty-three minutes across eleven songs, “The Inkadies” is the soundtrack to that glorious half-asleep period that we get before sleep - full of strange imaginations and warmth. Beautiful stuff, and an oh-so-welcome return from the talented Mr White.
- Cheese on Toast
To listen to a John White album is to succumb to a dream world, both in terms of his fantastical themes and his ethereal textures, which come in a range of guises, including relaxed singing (as well as delightful harmonies), gently finger-picked guitar or silky synthesisers.
White's voice may be warm and inviting on an album that could loosely fit into the neo-folk sub-genre, yet there is a brooding quality to his third solo effort (he is also frontman for Dunedin band Mestar). Listen to the sweetly dark Juvendee Hill and Little Blue Bird and feel the goosebumps rise.
- Otago Daily Times
This album could slip past as easily unnoticed as White's recent New Zealand tour, it whispers rather than shouts, is mostly dreamy rather than grounded. Formerly out front of Dunedin's Mestar, White recorded these airy but sometimes fuzzy, acoustic-framed songs in Wisconsin three years ago and apparently this one follows two previous albums.
Over the 11 short Anglofolk-styled songs (none more than three minutes, most less than two) White's soft and high voice doesn't explore much range beyond weightlessness, so it is down to synth drones (by producer Tom Hanson) to provide some musical breadth.
But this is never less than interesting, sometimes stands at the midpoint between early Donovan and early Bonnie Prince Billy, and over repeat plays the slightly disconcerting tunings and sonic settings (the distant "thunder" on The Fields, the vaguely creepy Juvendee Hill) or gentleness (The Boy That I Saw on That Day, Little Blue Bird which sounds an incomplete idea) make themselves known.
But for me it is the more widescreen and textural pieces (the fuzz-pop of Distant Dreams and Morning Stars, Bayo Fowvin) which grip, and I note Distant Dreams has been the first lifted off for a video.
Former Dunedinite (now Wellington-based) John White fronted well known fuzz-pop band Mëstar, has toured with the sadly defunct Cloudboy, and released two solo albums in a musical career that has been going for over a decade. Seven years after 2003’s ‘Mogwash’ comes the latest album of White’s ethereal dream pop, a continuation of his stories of the title characters, who are creatures from an otherland. Recorded by Tom Hanson in Madison, Wisconsin, ‘The Inkadies’ often sounds murky but is full of pretty synth bells, mellotrons, folky acoustic guitars and broken pianos, paired with some of the disturbing lyrical images that provide sinister undertones, as in The Boy That I saw That Day and Ashes Grey. White’s music has always had a mark of folkiness but songs like Juvendee Hill and Golden Anchor point to him becoming more of a storyteller, with vivid images in his lyrics. ‘The Inkadies’ is a short, but welcome return, out on Monkey Records’ label, and we can all hope it won’t be another seven years before he completes his next solo record.
Monkey Records is an eclectic boutique independent record label founded in New Zealand in the year 2000 with offices in Wellington and Berlin. Since August 2012, we have been releasing a single every week (or so) via our SoundCloud page.