Unapologetically strange and jarring, JM Smig’s Electronica Moronica is a captivating and enigmatic soundscape of obscure lounge music that will set your five senses alight. Stitching together an electronic and progressive rock instrumental that isn’t afraid to dig its claws into your skull, the 10-track album by the Salem artist revels in its fierce abstractness.
The first half of the album tells the Ballad of Sophie Schizo across four parts, with the album weaving through harsh yet coherent ambient electronic sounds. These four parts are sectioned off by the stages of Sophie Shizo’s illness, with “Relapse,” “Recovery,” and “Remorse” moving through jaggedly before landing on the somewhat surprising “Revenge,” which sounds the angriest and most remarkably different of the opening. Electronica Moronica kicks off with the colours of bizarre, brash, and bravery, as Smig delivers a haunting opening that still puts together a somewhat pleasing and well put-together lounge section.
“Kentucky Valentine” is the longest on the record, one that feels like a prolonged yet masterful burn. Initially, Smig starts off the track in a somewhat more conventional fashion, before throwing the song back into the obscure lounge music that we have come to appreciate. The song begins with a notable danciness before back tracking into its jarring nature. Near the end of the track is when the track explodes into a frenzied and harsh dance party, with the track evoking vivid images of Gothic cyberpunk raves. “Kentucky Valentine” has club potential, as strange as that sounds, and its versatility in its sound composition allow it to shine both on the dancefloor and alone in your room at night.
“Macsimile” is when the album takes a shockingly melodic turn, and despite this being the least obscure of the tracks, its unexpected conventionality makes it even more jarring. The track is cool in its swagger, sound like a mesh between modern-day likes of Cashmere Cat singing over embellished dial up sounds. At this point, the listener is on the edge of their seat as “Macsimile” chimes beautifully through. We almost feel as if all its really missing are a singer’s vocals to really make “Macsimile” that much more bold.
Smig then shows off the sounds of “Recycled Grace,” which sounds like sputtering acid jazz through a rusted blender, and as chaotic as that sounds, it still works magnificently. “Recycled Grace” does a fantastic job staying true to Electronica Moronica‘s swagger, delivering a harshness that still complements the song’s listenability.
“Duh Butter Dunnit” is another unexpected cut that delivers a more funky edge while still remaining faithful to the chaotic energy of the album. “Fat Kenny” meanwhile comes in at the penultimate track of the record, sounding like chamber music thrashing wildly around in a dungeon. Again, this sounds like a grotesque description, but in the beauty of the album’s overall whole, it works splendidly.
“Quiet! (Roger’s Trying To Sing)” ends the record with a pompous hip-hop vibe. Despite this song maintaining the record’s turbulent organization, “Quiet” is one of the more easier songs to vibe to as it spectacularly ends the record in a cascade of noise.
To the untrained ear, Electronica Moronica may come off as a mere lawless button mash of electronic noises. This is of no concern to JM Smig, who clearly revels in creating unharmonious soundscapes. However, we will still note this as something that does hold back the album from reaching a farther audience, as its commitment to being chaotic can come off as being a little too much and pretentious for some listeners.
Still, nothing stops JM Smig from delivering Electronica Moronica in a colourful flurry.
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