The feedback of our lives online, FM/AM, download, TV, pod, cell, chat,
static, "reality" sonics overheard and interpenetrating. Somehow the 17-year-old
Khonnor turns this into a kind of dream-rain. Out of which he emerges, and into
which he retreats or waits, with some of the most beautiful music of the year
all caught with the services of an old PC, its speaker unit, and a microphone
from a "Learn Japanese" kit. There's cause to be excited for him in the way we
might have been for the inventiveness of early Beck or the romance of Jeff Buckley.
Maybe it's just his youth that brings the same startling surges of freshness
in the music, the feeling that at this time (and I mean today, fragile old today)
he is the global citizen of technology we have hoped to hear but so far
failed to find.
Of course the noise that Khonnor turns into textures, curtains, and haze does not disguise the basics: his beautiful voice and surprisingly honest, poetic lyrics, the exquisite acoustic guitar strum of "Dusty" doused in crackling flecks (a needle in a groove), the intimacy. He recorded the album in his bedroom; the myth already goes that his parents were unaware of what they had on their hands till a Swedish documentary crew turned up on their door to reveal their then 16-year-old son had a contract with a UK record label and a burning underground vibe. His individual presence on Handwriting is quietly powerful, as is his orchestral vision and his ability to mix noise with striking melodies, to aurally celebrate in a way that is equal parts Susumu Yokota and Kurt Cobain. In the end Khonnor makes me feel like I am floating through the world. Soft. And. Grand.