The best music is meant to be transformative. Not that it changes us, but that it changes itself from the steel of string and wood and wire of instrument into sound which sublimates into feeling. So it’s no wonder that Will Johnson, who transforms so often himself, is capable of such alchemy. He fronts South San Gabriel and Centro-matic.
Alt-country figurehead Will Johnson has come to be known for his ceaseless output, with his band Centro-Matic, under his own name, and with any number of side projects. Though Scorpion is Johnson's first entirely solo work since 2004's Vultures Await, he was anything but dormant in the eight years between, churning out collaborations with Jay Farrar, Anders Parker, Yim Yames, and Jason Molina, among others. Scorpion is very much a solitary affair, however.
Anyone coming to Will Johnson's first solo work in eight years expecting another side of his rock band Centro-matic or standard singer-songwriter fare is in for a surprise. At first blush, this "grower," as Johnson has called it, sounds disjointed and impossibly moody. Adjust your ears, and it comes into a hazy focus. With Centro bandmate Matt Pence engineering and adding creaks and whooshes, the two create a dreamscape somewhere between the nightmares of Vic Chesnutt and Left Coast sunshine of early Neil Young.