Ian Vanek has dedicated much of his creative efforts into being one half of Japanther over the years. The duo, which also features Matt Reilly, have been together since 2001 when they met at art school, and they’ve released many creatively committed endeavors. Typically, a musical move of independence often leads fans to speculate and wonder will the end result be successful. Vanek has taken his opportunity to pursue a solo side project, a new album released under the name Howardian.
The album at first listen is fuzzy, lo-fi rock. In other words, it’s reminiscent of the garage band sound, the kind local bands and college kids listen to and play on their radio station. The amount of guitar and shredding present is what makes up most of the record. There are minimal musical vocals on the release, but the placement of sound bites from various recordings that range from video and radio segments help emphasize the self-made, or D.I.Y., impression the record gives.
“Be Fruitful” opens up the record with a distant, yet distinct, monotone vocal, and a straight guitar line all the way through. A talking voice opens and closes “Dahl,” which also has a simple guitar and monotone vocal. “Marble Meshes” is a guitar and drum duet that features some of the best shredding heard on the tracklisting. Opening up with an emotional call for justice, “Chunking” is a bright, synth-fused song with a lively and upbeat mood. The most eclectic on the LP is the closing song, “Video Radio,” which is essentially a minute of looped and stitched together controversial sound files.
There is a certain kind of creative energy that this album seems to be bursting at the seams with: the inspired and imaginative vitality youth are associated to have. The phrase, “The creative adult is the child who survived,” seems fitting here, but in no way is that to suggest a lack of mastery. Effectively, the record is delightfully indulgent of the distinct liveliness and rebellion found in the young.