3 and a half stars
Bass music stalwart Joker’s debut album The Vision has been a long awaited affair. The Bristolian treasure has taken his time since hitting the scene four years ago to produce the LP, out on 4AD, so eagerly demanded by his fans. Yet there are surprises in store for even those who thought they knew the established producer very well.
The combination of dizzying analogue synth and weighty bassline of opener ‘Slaughter House’ are of classic Joker character. Yet the melodic vocals may be a revelation to listeners accustomed to heavy stompers from his back-catalogue such as ‘3K Lane’. This largely sets the tone of the record: challenging and appeasing fans in equal measure, satisfying his own vision. ‘My Trance Girl’ is archetypal Joker territory, while by contrast ‘Electric Sea’ – essentially his take on an R&B track – is an unexpected but strangely enjoyable experience.
The incendiary flow of featuring artist Buggsy brings a welcome gritty change of pace to The Vision on tracks such as ‘Lost’ and personal favourite ‘Back In The Days’. However, these vocal elements should be no shock coming from a former Grime producer and are an enjoyable salute to Joker’s youth. Title track and first single ‘The Vision’, featuring vocals from Jessie Ware (who heavily featured on SBTRKT’s album), is an audio treat with strong mainstream appeal that you’ll find your self coming back to time and again. Like the album as a whole, it may not be groundbreaking, but it is a solid effort from a very talented producer.
Fulfilling the expectations of others was clearly not a priority for Joker and rightly so. But the feeling is left that there is something more to Joker that hasn’t quite been showcased in his debut outing.
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