Making a fresh appearance after years of radio silence, Johan Ess now presents an EP of four tracks built to last while hopefully also blowing your mind and speakers from over-enjoyment. This release was only possible for Johan Ess to complete after acquiring a new computer since their previous studio equipment had fallen apart several years hence from extensive obsolescence. There have also been countless setbacks for the artist in recent years, such as living in poverty in the Deep South, having their skull cracked open, being abducted by aliens, moving across the country thrice, and what have you. Their passion for quality dark electro-pop has not waned, however, and fans of the Johan Ess “sound” should be quite pleased with this new effort.
Some of these tracks have been in the works for quite a while. Perception Management, in particular, was culled from an early demo made in FL Studio back at the very beginning stages of their career and reworked over a span of nearly 15 years to achieve the driving beats and foreboding message it bears today. Perfect Forward was recorded five years prior to this release when they had brief access to a studio filled to the brim with analog synths but have only recently been able to finish recording the vocals, with subject matter delving head-first into addressing privacy and security concerns in the digital age.
There are also tracks written entirely on their new setup to be found at the beginning and end of this EP. Those who enjoyed Johan’s cover album Shout Out should appreciate these two cover-esque parodies that were made as studio warm ups for more original future endeavors. Forgot About Ess is a vaguely recognizable nod to a well known hip hop artist’s comeback track from the early 2000’s that Johan has reshaped to reflect a similar point in their career, but with a bit more of “tongue biting cheek” sensibility. Micro Killer is an epic anthem many will recognize, albeit styled in a more danceable electronic form, with sardonic lyrics calling attention to those who commit atrocities in order to achieve lasting notoriety for their misdeeds.
Calling into question the nature of pop music and propaganda, mass culture and individual identity, the serious and the farcical, Cranial Indiscretions was designed to be a thought provoking communiqué on our current age of binary command signals that we seem to blindly follow, often to our own detriment. These curious concoctions also show a new level of achievement in production experimentation and attention to detail. Whether this release marks the beginning of a new era for Johan Ess is yet to be known, but it seems equally suited as an intriguing comeback or a final swan song for their catalogue.