Rock’n’role: Kiwi au­teur’s ca­reer-best con­cept al­bum.

UNCUT - - New Al­bums - By Tom Pin­nock

The lyrics are hard to dis­cern at first. But there they are, hid­den in thick­ets of woozy, cho­rused gui­tar and de­liv­ered in eerie falsetto. “Once again/It’s Bostyn and his friend Dob­syn,” Con­nan Mock­asin sang, as if a pow­er­ful equine tran­quil­liser was about to kick in, on “It’s Choade My Dear”, the sec­ond track on 2011’s For­ever Dol­phin Love.

The song re­mains one of the high­lights of his strange, oth­er­worldly de­but proper, but few had any way of pre­dict­ing the im­por­tance that Bostyn and Dob­syn would come to play in Mock­asin’s mu­sic al­most a decade later. These two char­ac­ters, cre­ated by the singer and gui­tarist, his two brothers and his neigh­bour Blake Pryor as kids in ’90s New Zealand, have now been res­ur­rected as the stars of a five-part TV se­ries star­ring, di­rected and writ­ten by Mock­asin, and filmed in the dead of night in a for­mer hair salon in Los An­ge­les. Mock­asin’s new record is a com­pan­ion piece to the film, an al­bum made in char­ac­ter by Bostyn and his band of mu­sic teach­ers, the tit­u­lar Jass­busters.

It cer­tainly all sounds mess­ily out-there but, to be fair, the un­ex­pected is pretty much de rigueur for Mock­asin now. he be­gan per­form­ing se­ri­ously in Welling­ton, New Zealand, as front­man and leader of Con­nan And The Mock­asins, be­fore mov­ing to Lon­don in May 2006. There, he played ev­ery night that he could, drag­ging a shop­ping trol­ley full of equip­ment to dive gigs put on by ex­ploita­tive pro­mot­ers who’d pair his bluesy psych-rock with any other genre that brought in the pun­ters. By 2010, he’d gone solo and recorded his de­but on four-track at his par­ents’ home in Te Awanga. It’s still a stun­ning mad­cap record, echo­ing the cracked whimsy of Syd Bar­rett and Skip Spence, the psy­ch­garage of Ariel Pink, Gorky’s Zy­gotic Mynci and Gong, and the clang­ing, dron­ing tex­tures of 20th-cen­tury ex­per­i­men­tal mu­sic. Whether Mock­asin had ever heard any of this mu­sic is de­bat­able: he’s al­ways come across as some­one who makes these sounds be­cause that’s the way his head is wired; these left­field el­e­ments just pop mu­sic to his left­field brain.

2013’s Caramel was some­thing else again, but still no closer to nor­mal­ity. Recorded in a Ja­panese ho­tel room, it ex­plored funk and R&B but, be­ing a Mock­asin cre­ation, was dis­turb­ing and sub­ma­rine, with pitch-shifted voices and ex­treme cho­rus ef­fects dom­i­nat­ing, and much of the sec­ond side taken up by a me­an­der­ing suite, “It’s Your Body”. If you think this

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