Most people will have first encountered ‘Shona‘ through the promotional video that surfaced online in October 2014 broadcasting Bloc’s return to its former stomping ground of Butlins Minehead. Accompanying distorted and discoloured aerial stock footage of the holiday camp, shot by videographer David Terranova, the droning bassline and rush of euphoric synths worked as a near perfect fit for the announcement of the return of the much missed weekender. What’s more the mysterious track seemed to attract nearly as much attention as the news itself, with Bloc revealing that it was by an artist called Jake Chudnow and would constitute the first offering in a newly launched label.
There’s not much the internet has to offer in regards to who Jake Chudnow is, other than the fact that ‘Shona’ is his first solo EP, that he (apparently) works for Google and formerly played drums for the New York shoegaze band Kordan. Listening to ‘Shona’, however, and other bits of biographical information become implicit; not least that he clearly loves the kind of pastoral electronica that became popular in the mid ’00s on the back of artists such as James Holden and Nathan Fake.
Whilst that might sound like a bit of a backhanded compliment – and in truth it is – the record offers an enchantment that is hard to feel cynical about. Perhaps it’s the ever-climbing synths and tight kicks of ‘Shona‘, at once both urgent and joyous, or the slowly reverberating strands of sounds that give the ambience of ‘Prelude To Shona‘ an almost baroque capaciousness, but it’s difficult not to be drawn into Chudnow’s orchestrated moods. What the record lacks in risk or surprises it makes up for in its sheer immersive headiness.
You can see why Bloc have signed Chudnow’s Shona as a single-sided 12″ for their first release. Its sound not only fits the (deserved) jubilance surrounding their return to the festival circuit, but in its re-treading of popular electronica tropes it’s a safe bet that it’s going to sell through its limited vinyl run. It’s a solid start, both for Bloc and for Chudnow, but here’s hoping that future releases will see the warmth and energy that define ‘Shona’ matched by an equal interest in staking fresh territory.
Shona EP is out now on Bloc. order a vinyl copy via Boomkat.
2. Prelude to Shona