You may know Fascinator better as Johnny Mackay, former frontman of popular Melbourne rockers Children Collide. Now, under a new moniker he has chosen to broaden his horizons – massively – sharing his time between the U.S and Australia operating under the same management as Tame Impala and Pond – the revered Spinning Top.
Fascinator will inevitably mesmerise as Johnny Mackay investigates the far corners of psyche-exploring music to make an album that sounds both like a roaring new beginning and a beautiful lament.
Taking a violent turn away from his largely conventional roots, his new solo album Man is an experimental, eclectic, and self-defining record that would sit comfortably in company with Kevin Parker and crew.
Originally created at the behest of triple J due to the high demand for psychedelic music, Johnny stepped away from Children Collide to invent a new project. However, Fascinator didn’t receive the expected or promised support from the station who said they would play the music on super high rotation. But Johnny has continued on with his work to produce, with the help of Avalanches alumni Darren Seltmann, a trip of an album which whispers, murmurs, burbles, and beats along with a sort of manic energy that shifts a listener between wondering if they feel ill, or elated; entirely in control or utterly senseless; intensely focused or in a complete haze.
Difficult to categorise, the best way to describe the blend of organs, synths, bells, rattles, drums, guitars, and the lost and melancholic vocals is to say it is sound-art, an abstract ride that moves in all directions at once. You can imagine some of the visuals that accompany music like this. Think King Gizzard, only stranger – and more electronic.
The most talented musicians create albums that cannot and should not be separated or fragmented, but records that speak of a journey or narrative. Fascinator is one of these, with Man winding and trickling, rushing and relaxing like a river brimming with your favourite buzz inducers.
It’s a long record that begins with the typical atmospheric energy, popping and tumbling through a couple of the singles Time To Go and Dead of the Night before expanding into a brighter, more optimistic track in The Traveller. Gradually the album descends into darker, and danker, territory while always encouraging that disconnected rocking motion fans of the genre love so much.
At one point Johnny sings “we are never-ending” and that line may describe the album best. It’s feels infinite, as though it exists on a slightly different plane that, while we can hear it, we can never quite find it. Future History stands in the middle of the album as a connector of a few of the different styles within the twelve songs. Eventually the album resurfaces and slows down, as if the river is headed towards more expansive waters. It is a calm relaxing double hit from All’s Well That End’s Well and Space Mountain, coming after the surprisingly light and refreshing Glass Dragon. It’s a tremendous way to ease out of the album but also leaves you needing to revisit it again, to hear the galloping and meandering towards a final, blissful destination.