Louis Landry’s JJ vs the Digital Whale is a concept album that retells the biblical story of Jonah with a modern twist. Replacing the cetacean beast with the colossus of digital data, JJ tells the story of “a hesitant prophet” who flees the sprawl of ones and zeroes in order to transcend it. It’s the fourth LP by the multi-talented Landry, who also teaches music, creates scores for theater groups, and is proficient on some twenty instruments. The project is an attempt to connect the Jonah story to multiple religious traditions as well as to recast it using the modern behemoth of technology.
The new video for “I Know a Guy” reflects the complexity of Landry’s project. After opening with plaintive piano notes and a shimmer of blue that morphs into ocean waves, a chintzy electronic percussion beat leads into a huge tribal drum pulse that sounds like something out of eighties-era Peter Gabriel or Killing Joke. The groove takes over and Landry vocalizes the story of JJ above the top in a catchy, sing-song melody. The sprawl of imagery—of the band playing, Matrix-like grids of digits, time lapses, Hebrew lettering, Bible quotes—adds up to a trippy, hypnotic effect that suits the ambitious subject matter just right.