JM Airis


Wild Birds, JM Airis’s sophomore release on Totally Gross National Product, continues an exploration of aural themes and tonescapes first introduced on Indian Summer, but the end result is a significantly stronger, more nuanced effort. Wild Birds is confident, bigger in its presentation than the rough edge of the first record, and Airis covers a lot of territory, crisscrossing from the swaggering to the solemn in the context of his continued odyssey into the darker psyche of Americana music. Where Indian Summer was more traditionally driven, the prominence of synth notes, airy spaces and the relegation of guitars to a supporting role push Wild Birds to the edge of folk noir, if it’s even definable. What’s certain is Airis has been deliberate in creating this chronicle, from structure to sound, seeking perfection in even the least audible punctuations. From the reverberation of an acoustic string to a single chime, this is exactly as Airis intends while skating beneath any accusations of the album being over produced. All totaled, Wild Birds is a raw-eyed view from above, a polished reflection of the simplicity distance provides and a back-to-the-land reminder that not everyone in the city is singing songs about the hustle. 
-M. Huggins, Chicago '15

Cited for the raw-edge timbre of his production projects or as the drummer of New York City recording artists Dead Sparrows, J.M. Airis’s collection of solo recordings unearth a journeyman songwriter, every bit as much an artist as an engineer. Originally from northern Wisconsin, Airis’s solo recordings have remained rooted in a “four-track forever” ethos, both in composition and sound. As a teen, he dedicated himself to experimenting with available recording gear, and as technique availed itself, he continued focusing on mastering analog tape machines when others had gone digital, giving his catalogue a distinct ancestral flavor. Airis’s recordings are largely anti-virtuoso, tastefully exploring song layers in a variety of sound rooms, giving an unusual honesty to his work and highlighting location as more player than muse.