John Newton is the drummer/vocalist of South London duo JOHN and has already produced one collection of tracks solo under the moniker Total Wkts. Running Tracks had its physical release in September 2020, and John now releases a second album called No Holiday which will be available on 16 April 2020 on JOHN’s own Pets Care Records label. This collection was produced from July to November 2020 and such productivity is especially impressive in the current circumstances. The first album Running Tracks was produced while spending time in his childhood town, whereas this second release was produced back in his current home in South London.
John has used the limitations of the current circumstances to be more considered about the present. This project is about the “now”, and production results in layering sampled offcuts to build a collage of his time.
For example, an unknown character singing from a neighbouring building is repurposed into a backing vocal on track “P.W.R.R.E.G’, and the clatter of kitchen appliances fold into the haunting rhythm of “Deadclub”. There is a real industrial sound to this body of work. It speaks of sweat and energy. There’s immense depth and atmosphere within the soundscapes, often taking the lead over the vocals. The exception is “Office Dream” which is a much gentler, thoughtful, considered track with lyrics as a stream of consciousness.
“Private Republic” is the second single, after “Odermatt” to be released from the “No Holiday”. It is a claustrophobic track driven by scuzzy beats and a constant intense thundering drum beat throughout. The repetition towards the end of “Private” and “Republic” perhaps suggest that power is held in the hands of a few, and those few ultimately have control.
John expands on the Total Wkts process:
“Having spent a lot of my youth struggling to cast off the anxieties of the past and future, Total Wkts became a way of engaging with the presence of my direct surroundings. I just tried my best to ignore irrational worries regarding the traditions of production, and worked positively through the limitations at play”.
Therefore John freed himself to retain certain details that previously may have been thought of as mistakes. As these details were uncovered during the creation of a song, who is to say they are “mistakes”? This liberation in sound provides a raw emotional truth to the production quality. In addition, the relatively quick turnaround from the creation of the tracks to release allows us, the listener, to determine our own interpretations.
No Holiday is released on Friday 16th April on Pets Care Records. The single “Private Republic” is out now.