Written by Landon Schwindt
Appearing on the music scene in 2007 at a mere 16 years of age, the name Joker became commonplace due to the spread of his Purple Dubstep anthems across clubs and venues worldwide. Now, roughly four years later marks the release of his first full length, titled, “The Vision”. The album contains several well known tracks such as “Tron”, and the title-track “The Vision”, as well as introducing several entirely new compositions throughout the thirteen track release. Most notable are the tracks, “Slaughterhouse”, and “My Trance Girl”, both of which demonstrate the pioneering post-dubstep sounds of Joker, while incorporating a significant amount of diverse vocal features. Although the album doesn’t stray too far from the older sounds of the Bristol-based producer, he adds a new element to his compositions with a wide variety of artist features, demonstrating his firm intentions to move in a new direction.
Both the composition and lyricism of Slaughterhouse seem to represent the message of the LP, offering an escape from the trite and corporate nature of the pop music industry. Many metaphorical admonishments are littered throughout the song, encouraging artists and listeners in general to always keep searching for more, with lines like, “They wrap you up in plastic and ship you to the stores, but deep in your bones, you know you were made for something more.” The hook states in a confident plea, “I can take you out of here , let me take you out of here”, showing Joker’s confidence behind his release, and the new pop avenue he is channeling within his dubstep roots. The rough and characteristic Joker synths are complimented nicely by the smooth tone of Silas, all backed by an extremely punchy drum rack that really shows off the progress Joker has made as a producer. The powerful climax exemplifies the profound depth and soul Joker infuses each track with, making Slaughterhouse an extremely balanced and well rounded track.
My Trance Girl serves as the perfect example of the dramatic increase in the quality of Joker’s sound-design and overall production, especially when compared to previously famed tracks “Holly Brook Park”, and “Purple City”. Each individual element of the track is meticulously arranged to correspond perfectly with the rest, working together in a symbiotic fashion that makes the track well deserving of the cinematic six minute journey. The soothing background wash and melancholic, dreamlike sound-scape are countered with a rich, wet, juggernaut of a synth, leaving the remnants of the track ringing in your head like a disturbing dream you don’t want to forget.
A strong release with a line-up of increasingly talented vocalists such as Silas, William Cartwright and Jessie Ware as well as producer collaborations with artists such as long-time friend Ginz, Joker firmly establishes himself as a now seasoned producer with a signifcantly more mature edge. “The Vision” certainly frequents his signature purple sound, but the album also explores other realms of conventional pop, R&B and smooth jazz. The album even includes a relaxing, yet progressive interlude full of funky bass and calming xylophones, all blanketed by the striking acid-synth sound so associated with Joker. Be sure to give the album a full listen, out now on 4AD.