Formerly a part of the touring One Taste collective (Little Dragon, Jamie Woon), Jono McCleery has since struck off on his own, crowdfunding his debut album Darkest Light in 2008, and teaming up with Counter Records for his 2011 release There Is. Perhaps it was through Counter that McCleery met British producers Maribou State, who released their debut album Portraits via that label earlier this year. McCleery guests as a vocalist on a track from that record called “Say More, adding his delicate, jazz-infused vocals to their smeared static production style.
This year, he’ll release another record called Pagodes via Ninja Tune and a new imprint partnership with legendary London music store If Music. Though he’s been creating music for years now, Pagodes feels like a culmination of what McCleery has been working toward. Pagode is a Portuguese word used to describe a Brazilian samba subgenre, and his latest song “Clarity” definitely embodies the sweet, subtle warmth of that style. He also told The Line Of Best Fit that the song is inspired in part by John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. McCleery is the ideal combination of complicated electronic flourishes and the deep simplicity of folk, and he uses the calm improvisation of jazz as a backbone for these disparate elements.
Born deaf, McCleery gained his hearing at age 5 and began playing music in earnest as an 18-year-old. His power lies in a distinct ability to work in subdued momentum, and on “Clarity” he shifts the entire song on a volley of tiny changes. McCleery’s voice is right out of the roaring twenties, and “Clarity” plays like a jazz standard updated for the digital era. Listen.
Pagodes is out 10/2 via If Music/Ninja Tune. Pre-order it here.