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Daniel Johnston – Space Ducks (Feraltone)

When you take a look at Daniel Johnston’s art you notice straight away the recurring theme of characters such as Captain America, Casper the Friendly Ghost, the Boxer, the Ducks, and the more you listen to Johnston’s music the more you submerge yourself within his artwork, mirroring the images he’s conveying in his songs with added meaning. Last year saw the release of Space Ducks: An Infinite Comic Book of Musical Greatness his first published book and Space Ducks – Johnston’s first album since 2009 is the soundtrack to go alongside said book (there’s also a Space Ducks app, but more on that later.) The album features 7 new Johnston tracks as well as new tracks from collaborators such as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Deer Tick and Fruit Bats…not even Jake Bugg can ruin the brilliance of this record.

Opening track ‘Space Ducks’ sounds like it was recorded a million miles away from the lo-fi garages Johnston where recorded the likes of Hi, How Are You? and Yip/ Jump Music; my guess is Johnston took one of those Virgin Galactic flights and created this record in space. The album’s nicely broken up by guest appearances so it never seems tired; Fruit Bats’ Evil Magic is 4 minutes of pure bliss, Unknown Mortal Orchestra Satanic Palace brings the vibrating bass to bring out the snake hips in even the worst of dancers. Jake Bugg finally has something to smile about as in a surprising twist his contribution doesn’t make you want to shove screwdrivers in your eyeballs Man on the Moon is a refreshing change from the kid behind the whiney drawl moaning about how worse off he is than everyone else. Johnston channels his heroes The Beatles on Sense of Humour with one of his most poppy numbers to date, it has everything a pop tune should, a great melody, soulful guitars and a chorus that will be the only thing on your mind when trying to remember what you need to get on the food shop, this is Daniel’s take on Sgt. Peppers.

Mean Girls Give Pleasure is bound to be a future fan favourite, featuring a rapping Johnston and a guitar slide, oddly it never pushes the song into being cheesy but incredibly charming. Mask another psychedelic delight ends in the best way possible, Daniel greeting a girl who enters the room with “Hi how are you doing, you’re a good looking girl, we have to make a video of this! Wouldn’t that be fun?!”

There’s also a free iPhone + iPad App of space ducks to download if you are fancy with technology, featuring games based on Daniel Johnston’s Space Ducks artwork, videos and other such surprises.

Johnston wears his fragile heart on his very colourful sleeve and is easily his most accessible record to date for those wanting to push the brilliance of this man onto those not quite ready for the barely audible recordings of his earlier work.

[Rating:4]

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.