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March 16, 2009 | by  | in Music |
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Mt Pleasant / Mt Pleasure – Pop Hits City EP

Mount Pleasant is the project of Christchurch based musician Jonathan Phillips. I first discovered his music following the release of a short self-titled album by A Low Hum. The album was made available for free, and although I can recall finding it an interesting listen, it didn’t quite captivate me. Then I saw their set at Camp A Low Hum. Reconfigured into a full band, Mount Pleasant proved to be one of the most intriguing and enigmatic acts that I saw at Blink’s festival. Live, Phillips seemed nervous and self-conscious, but his public displays of fragility only served to heighten the experience. Mount Pleasant’s music is fragmented, dissonant, complex and strikingly beautiful.

Upon returning from Camp I discovered that Phillips has a blog www.mountpleasantmusic.blogspot.com, through which he occasionally releases small EP-length collections of songs and sonic fragments. He also writes little stories and stream of consciousness fragments on his blog, and like his music, Phillips’ words are tinged with feelings of sadness and detachment. His latest release is called the Pop Hits City EP, which he has confusingly released under a different moniker: Mount Pleasure. It has nine songs and is 21 minutes long. Phillips’ music is lo-fiand often features distortion, level peaking, varied instrumentation and plenty of loops, delay and reverb.

An occasional trick he employs is to layer a set of vocals with one melody distorted and another left clean. Many of his songs finish abruptly, feeling more like snatches of ideas than complete works, but this is part of the appeal. Because of this, as well as the manner in which he releases his music, his work could be described as post-modern. He is constantly pulling his songs apart, either through their fragmented, jittery structures or by inserting bursts of distortion, noise or odd segments of percussion. And then there is his voice, which is paper thin, like a child’s. His vocals can be morose, dark, neurotic, or even jumpy in a way that one might call excitable, except for the fact that Phillips always sounds sad. Mount Pleasant’s music is not going to appeal to most people, but if you can find beauty in a fractured environment, or relate to a young consciousness constantly examining itself and the complex world that surrounds it, then I highly recommend the Pop Hits City EP, along with the rest of Jonathan Phillips’ music.

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