New York – Jib Kidder’s bandcamp bio reads “no genre, no hometown, hard to pin down since Y2K.” This is true: Sean Schuster-Craig has lived all over the country (grew up in Georgia, spent time in the Midwest and on the West Coast, currently based in New York) and experimented with genres from Southern hip-hop to outlaw country to improvisational instrument studies. Teaspoon To The Ocean, out January 27 from Weird World/Domino, is his first full-length foray into indie pop and his most accessible album yet.
Schuster-Craig describes himself as a collage artist. He melds disparate parts together via samples and dream logic. “Collage shares much with dreams,” he writes in his explanatory notes accompanying Teaspoon To The Ocean. His music finds the connections between seemingly unrelated stimuli and interprets them through his own peculiar consciousness. “Dreams sample the stuff of life to form chimeras,” he writes about learning how to use samplers. “Now I could construct dream chimeras from the stuff of my life of listening.” The stuff he makes could only be made by him, since it’s made of his own imagination. In Jib Kidder’s fantasy world, John Fahey and Three 6 Mafia are neighbors who trip together.
The dreams of Teaspoon are of the dream-pop variety. The psychedelic swirls are reminiscent of Elephant 6 bands like the Olivia Tremor Control and Apples In Stereo, and Schuster-Craig’s heavily processed vocals call to mind Black Moth Super Rainbow’s Vocoder experiments, peppered with a bit of country-western yodel. Vocals are a relatively new addition to Jib Kidder’s toolkit, and serve to focus his songwriting. The tracks on Teaspoon are songs first, collages second.
First single “In Between” sounds like Harry Nilsson, that icon of tight songwriting, with its jangly guitar riffs, power-pop vocal melody, and AM radio drums, until it breaks apart at the end into dubby, ricocheting drum shrapnel. Another highlight is “Melt Me,” a twinkling 9½ minute expedition built around a drone that feels like it could stretch out for hours.
Hopefully Jib Kidder tames his restlessness for a little while and explores this indie-pop mode some more, as there is further refinement he could make. All of the songs kind of sound the same. They all hover around the same tempo, use similar guitar loops and drum fills, and feature Schuster-Craig singing in the same falsetto-adjacent register. The hip-hop and country influences he cites are mostly absent. He could go further into dream logic beyond ‘dreamy’ signifiers like Vocoder and psych flourishes and attempt to fully collapse everything he hears into one expression, the way dreams work.
Jib Kidder feels like an artist who will develop a small cult audience who thinks he’s a genius and follows him everywhere he goes (and he will certainly continue to go some interesting places) while being ignored by the mainstream. And he’s probably cool with that. He was never trying to be a rock star anyway. He’s just following the muse wherever it leads him.
Check out Jib Kidder on the Weird World Records website for tour dates. For now, Schuster-Craig is scheduled to join Panda Bear for several dates in March.
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