You know the saying, “role of a lifetime”? Well I feel that musician/film composer Antoni Maiovvi has found that role in the worn-out, leather boots of post-punk/new wave survivor Jason Priest. Priest is the nom de plume which Maiovvi has taken for his latest musical project, which is an all-out jagged pop album with edges that cut if you’re not careful.
Jason Priest Is Missing is a chance for composer Maiovvi to settle into the music that inspired him to want to be a musician in the first place. Priest mingles with the likes of Depeche Mode, OMD, New Order, Killing Joke, and The Cure, making a record that is sort of a redemption album for this Zelig of the early post-punk and new wave movement. It’s also just one hell of an album that stands firmly on its own, both in early 80s alternative and in Maiovvi’s musical canon.
You don’t really even have to fall into the idea of Jason Priest as this musician who arrived at the cusp of an alternative music revolution in the late 70’s/early 80s Britain. A guy who was on the front line of UK clubs, hitting it hard, and being a contemporary to names like Smith, Gahan, and Sumner who crashed and burned. Like Icarus, flew too close to the sun and singed his battered wings, hitting the earth at the speed of rehab. You can enjoy this album as just this amazing grizzled electro pop record that stands with the best. But a little theater and narrative never hurt anyone, and Antoni Maiovvi has gone all in with Jason Priest. Drop the needle, close your eyes, and just go with it.
Album opener and lead single “When The Clown Cries” is the rallying cry. An all-out synth pop future classic that has some serious muscle in the rhythm section. Early New Order and Cure comes to mind, with Maiovvi, err Priest, giving one hell of a vocal performance. “White Anglo-Saxon Protestants” has Head On The Door-era Cure in its DNA, bringing to mind classic 4AD and Sire Records.
On an album filled front to back with stellar tracks, my favorite might just be album closer “Dead Again”. It doesn’t close our time with Priest on a happy note, but with more of a stoic’s view of the world. Addicts are addicts their entire life, and everyday is a change to flush their redemption down some dark and filthy drain. “Dead Again” could be Priest flirting with the idea, or it could be him falling off the rails again. It’s a hefty track with a spirited, sullen weight; elements of PiL, Killing Joke, and the emotional pull of a film composer’s ear.
Maiovvi give Jason Priest both musical and lyrical heft, with a touch of Greek tragedy for good measure. It’s hard to discern the sound and production from something that could’ve come from the era this record is inspired by. It looks and sounds as if it could’ve been in the record racks next to titles like Architecture & Morality, Low-Life, and Seventeen Seconds. Jason Priest Is Missing is both a grand musical statement from one of our best working today, as well as musical theater of the highest order. Move over Ziggy, and let Jason have the spotlight.
8.3 out of 10
‘Jason Priest Is Missing’ is available now via Midnight Mannequin Records. Buy it here.