Bristol-based bedroom production virtuoso SJ Esau’s Anticon debut is a masterful balance of songcraft and sonic manipulation. Spanning twelve alternately expansive and explosive tracks, Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse treads the common ground between Slint, Arab Strap, Fog, Sonic Youth and Mogwai (with Fennesz and Jim O’Rourke lurking in the shadows), which is to say, it’s an album that successfully integrates genre-less exploration, detailed composition, inspired collaboration, and a sense of humor.
Sandwiched between homemade loops, Esau’s compositions gradually unfold into sprawling epics (“Wears the Control”), remain quiet and composed (“The Wrong Order”), or begin calmly, then blast wide open in a hail of distortion, squelching strings or triumphant horns. With the able assistance of long-time collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Max Milton, Esau has crafted an album that moves with ease from the decidedly dark (the lumbering and dastardly “Queezy Beliefs”) to the blithely buoyant (“All Agog”). Lyriclly he stands alone, singing unlikely anthems for the unsung and uneasy hero in each of us.