Admiring traditions of jazz, funk, and Shona music while pulsing with post-genre nuance, the duo of old friends known as Honey Oat is drawing silk diagrams of oblique time through sound.
Honey Oat’s tiered walls of vocal layerings and blissful Wurlitzer glissandi condense into clouds of complex melodic residue. Gabe Stout’s evocative jazz drumming clusters together beats of improbability and wonder, a bedrock for his own tenderly leaping falsettos. In tandem, Janak JP paints timescapes with an electric piano, coursing through progressive jazz and keys-forward pop features with fluidity. In intimate cross-chatter, Honey Oat activates intensities ranging from knuckles-on-the-keys vamps (‘Wonder In Sights’) to delicate, youthful lullabies (‘Wallpaint’) and levels in between.
In and around core duets of Wurlitzer and traps, Honey Oat weaves a dotted arrangement of musical idiosyncrasies. On ‘Loopspool,’ between sustained synthesizer mid tones and a three-over-two hosho ostinato, a driving impulse emerges that conveys an ever-peaking and ever-evolving emotional state. The collaboration of rapper Maassai on ‘A Small Piece Of String’ disperses a sense of calm against ring-modulated synth leads that drone like the landing of a UFO. ‘Lizard Brain’ and ‘Wallpaint’ call out to Shona music, the Zimbabwean tradition Stout and JP have studied since they met in a marimba class at age 6. Today, continuing to write with the mbira and marimba helps Stout and JP to ground and celebrate their bond of mutual creative becoming, which has lasted nearly a lifetime.
Honey Oat’s debut album renders time wavering and unpredictable. The music sits still as much as it departs in oneiric spirals. Against the current of social media and its loops of endless replayability, Honey Oat’s music sits with hyperlocal remembrance, spontaneity: the mortality of the moment. (“I’m gonna find me a stranger from a past life and hope that you remember me / When you get gone”) What must be forgotten to remember? Pockets of crooked temporality bead into capsules of emotional clarity on the brink of annihilation: “I will not forget you / But you will forget me / When I disappear.”
Honey Oat’s debut album is available via Astro Nautico in cassette and digital formats.
released March 15, 2019
Original music produced, written and recorded by Janak JP and Gabe Stout
Mixed by Sam Obey and Janak JP
Mastered by Sam Obey
Maassai - vocals (10)
Bailey Wollowitz - bass (10)
Ian Lipson - additional engineering (4)
Artwork by Ona Lepeska-True
Photography by Steve Williamson