It’s the way we evolve that makes humans so exciting. Milwaukee’s Donny Jankowski (Ghost Kid, Spooky Child, Donny & The Robot) has evolved so many times you daren’t avert your gaze, or even blink; each new phase arriving quicker, fresher and bolder than the last.
Switchblade Runner is perhaps my favourite from his latest batch of 80s-inspired synth productions. There’s some classic John Carpenter-isms there, and they’re brilliant, but most of all there’s a melodic sensibility which reminds me instantly of The Cure. If Bobby Smith had popped the red pill rather than the blue pill before making an instrumental Disintegration – then crashed headlong into a psychedelic mountain of analogue synthesizers – it could in all probability have finished up a lot like this.
Dig out your Betamax, power up the neons and hold on tight, there’s a sexy sound on the way.
The otherworldly sonic meanderings of Milwaukee’s Donny Jankowski first came to attention via “The Unlikely Future Of Reverse Engineering” on the Manchester-based BFW Recordings netlabel in 2011, under his Ghostkid alias. While in construction at least it was reminiscent of the wonky hip-hop-sample-folk output of Blithe Field, tracks like “A Fleeting Daydream” and “Martian Waving Goodbye” demonstrated warmer, more enveloping qualities, dreamy lo-fi loops and subtle motifs bubbling beneath slo-fi Boards-esque beats.
Follow up ‘Things That Go Dub In The Night’ embraced a straighter, harder, more synthetic approach – if his opener represented the haze of a long hot summer, then this was definitely the dark and neon-lit nighttime flipside, eschewing wobbly loops and grooves for grainy electro keyboard lines.
Fast forward a couple of years and Ghostkid – now under the Donny And The Robot pseudonym – has mutated beyond his earlier creations whilst retaining key signatures of both. In his most recent track “Classics/Sleep For Health” a short science fiction intro makes way for a gorgeous understated groove, effortlessly supplemented by an effected guitar loop which smartly straddles the differing aesthetic approaches of his BFW output. Judicious use of vocal samples and space-launch synthesizer FX brings to mind something akin to the approach of downtempo masterminds Kites Sail High, albeit with a cleaner, more considered nature. And to close, without warning, we’re transported into a lush string-based soundscape not entirely unlike that which The Avalanches used to maximum effect in sugar-coating their softly psychedelic remix of Badly Drawn Boy’s “The Shining”.
If current offerings are anything to go by, I fancy that Donny and his so-far anonymous Robot are on the cusp of something very special indeed, and I for one am utterly giddy in anticipation of their future adventures.