*300 copies limited edition* Since the early 2010s, Josh Mason has slowly amassed an enchanting discography, publishing recordings on labels such as Florabelle, Dauw, Longform Editions, and his retired Sunshine Ltd. imprint. Whether focusing on electric guitar or modular synthesizer, Mason approaches his music with intentionality, tenderness, and a keen ear for detail, resulting in an exceptional and enduring oeuvre.
His workmanlike approach to craft and monomaniacal interest in circuit design culminated in 2021’s “Utility Music,” a daunting book/CD project that documents and unpacks a yearlong exploration of a Doepfer A-100 Eurorack system. The irony of such a project is that it might lead listeners to believe that academic technique and synthesis technology are the animating principles of his practice, but the reality is that this is only part of the story. Listening to Mason’s music one gets the sense that, like a good novelist, he truly cares about his characters, which take the forms of the textures and timbres of archaic wavetable oscillators, idiosyncratic filters, pulverized samples, and exotic noise sources.
“An Anxious Host” feels like a pivotal release in Mason’s catalog. It’s his first vinyl outing since 2019’s astounding “Coquina Dose,” and it may be the most succinct and potent album he’s made. The track titles function like stage directions in a play, intimating a hazy, filmic narrative populated by schemers, dreamers, and lost souls. As ever with Mason’s work, place is paramount, and this record is thoroughly shot through with the humidity, warmth, and “end of the line”-ness of the state of Florida. Seasick swells and sunken melodies; swampy, sputtering loops; sonic flotsam pooling together and flowing out, beckoning the listener to come have a soak.