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Junip Finds Their Groove Playing in Fields

BY LILY MOAYERI, PHOTOGRAPHY JON BERGMAN

There’s a lot of climbing at Junip’s performance at the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock. The Swedish trio, focused around Jose Gonzales, known for his solo work and his Zero 7 collaborations, is performing to a packed venue. The stage being only a few inches above ground level, the eager audience is doing what it can to see the band, hence the clambering onto chairs, boxes, flight cases, window ledges, anything that will give them some height. Once in view, Junip live is expanded to five members, the majority of them on some kind of percussion instrument. Not unlike his solo performances, Gonzalez sits clutching his 12-string guitar, and sings like he is singing only for you.

 “In a way, I’m stuck in my own sound solo,” Gonzalez admits. “It’s not that I want to change that sound, it’s just that I know that I can do other styles.” 

Junip is, in fact, Gonzalez’s original musical endeavor, prior to his solo albums and Zero 7 appearances. With the attention Gonzalez received on his own, Junip was put on temporary hold. Rejoining the group has proven to be the perfectly timed move as Gonzalez is now a known entity. And because of that, bringing awareness to Junip is not only easy but inevitable. Case in point, the Eagle Rock performance, which took place three months prior to the release of the band’s debut album, Fields.

Fields is preceded by the Rope And Summit EP, whose title track is included on the album. Starting with bite and softening as it proceeds, “In Every Direction” sets the tone with Doors-like, foggy keys. “Always” puts focus on Gonzalez’s guitars, quickly dropping into a salsa style dance rhythm. “Rope And Summit” lends urgency to Fields with its quick movements tempered with clapping percussion. The majority of Fields, however, is set off by hazy, shuffling drumbeats.

The main distinction between Junip and Gonzalez’s familiar acoustic sound is the presence of this percussion element. This is provided both by Elias Araya’s sturdy scaffold of subtle but impactful drums and Tobias Winterkorn’s intricate keyboard wielding. The two complement each other for a rhythmic, driving, yet muffled and lo-fi style. On Fields this combination perfectly amplifies Gonzalez’s leisurely paced, mournful vocal delivery and moodily plucked nylon-stringed guitar—although this is the most downplayed of the sounds on the record.

 “With my solo stuff I have my guitar geeks and people that like heartbeat,” says Gonzalez. “It’s nice to change. I’m sure we’ll find a slightly different crowd.”

 Gonzalez credits producer Don Alsterberg for some of the more defined sounds on Fields. “[Alsterberg] was like a sports coach: ‘Yeah, let’s do this, it’s going to be great,’ trying to get everybody in a good mood,” explains Gonzalez. “The words he used—it’s not the same in English, but in Swedish it’s like trying to get a swing or a groove into the music, both pretty horrible words, but that is the essence we were trying to get.” 􀀀

Junip’s Fields is in stores now. Catch the band November 14th at the Music Box. For more info see www.junip.net.

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