Jon Jackson, the Fayetteville electronic producer formerly known as Atta, has released his first EP by his new stage name, Jonteal. The EP, titled Aquatica, features three new tracks.
Jon discussed the transition from Atta to Jonteal, his influences, and future plans on the Episode 26 of the Shindigmusic Podcast in February. As explained on the podcast, stylistically, Jon’s new project uses less samples and more of the “tools he has at hand”, even though as far as I can tell, the saxophone playing he’s known for is missing from his EP (though I assume he will still employ the saxophone during his live shows). Regardless, the name change is mostly a rebranding, and I look forward hearing how Jon’s style continues to transform. Jon credits Griz, Big Gigantic, and Late Night Radio as some of his biggest influences, most likely due to their pioneering of electronic music combined with live instrumentation. Those names don’t come to mind when I hear Jonteal’s new music even though he also uses live instrumentation during performances. His music reminds me more of a combination of Emancipator, Tipper, Thriftworks, and TroyBoi.
As a human being, Jon Jackson is someone I’ve only had minimal interaction with (though he has always been as friendly as can be), yet he is someone I’ve often heard friends of mine, from many different friend groups, talk often about admiringly. Anytime his name is mentioned, it is usually followed with phrases like, “he’s the nicest person I know,” “he’s such a good dude,” or “I love that guy!” He even confessed to being a Francophile on the Shindigmusic podcast and that “Jonteal” is a play on the French word “gentil,” meaning nice. I bring this up because his music, on the other hand, can be dark and creepy with wonky, distorted bass, a slow anticipation of the beat, and meandering downtempos.
His introspective tracks on Aquatica make me think he’s gotten to know the depths of his own mind, which translates easily to the depths of the sea with this aquatic themed EP. With each sea creature titled song, Tardigradez, Eel Feelz, and Axolotl, I can imagine myself traveling to other realms and dimensions as well as simply swimming through the ocean as if I were actually each of the Pokémon-like beings his tracks are named after.
Tardigradez is chill and melodic with a consistent 808 drum, trap beat throughout. Since my roommate first said it, I can’t stop thinking of the idea of wanting to hear someone rap over this chill, trap track. The most upbeat track, Eel Feelz, is irresistible, head bobbing music. The trance vibes suck me in for the journey. Jon concludes the EP with a banger; Axolotl is the most musically diverse track on the EP, falling under a glitch/dubstep genre. The relaxed tempo and low vocal effects remind me of the Thriftworks album, Red Leopard. The beat tiptoes through the song, accompanied in the middle by a rumbling, dubstep bass line that is not heard in the other tracks on the EP.