Released: Nov 8 2011
Genre: Dubstep / Grime
By: James Murray
Originally Written for The 405
Rewind back to 2008; the dubstep scene was primarily underground, and the then 19-year-old producer Joker was making his first real contributions to the scene. It was one year later that the modern classic ‘Purple City’ was released – and Joker made his mark as one of the centric figures in the evolution of UK bass music.
The Vision prolongs Joker’s so-far-short legacy, a record that successfully interweaves most of today’s relevant elements of bass: Dubstep, grime and liberating instrumentals. The ambient, visionary introduction is purposely ill-assorted to stamp some level of bemusement on to the face of any listener expecting a pure dubstep record – Joker has produced a record far more diverse, an urban soundtrack.
The minimal introduction to ‘Slaughter House’ suggests this could be a record akin to the stripped-down house vibes demonstrated in the debut release from ‘Night Slugs’ L-Vis 1990, but the male R&B-style vocals of Silas clarify that Joker is aiming to create an album with hooks as well as an album with experimental direction. The soul-influenced vocals over floor-shaking bass combination is pieced together in comparable fashion to Dubstep hit ‘Getting Nowhere’ featuring John Legend, one of the many successes to creep out of the still-young Magnetic Man discography.
First single and album-titled track ‘The Vision’ stylistically shares its motives with ‘Slaughter House’. Joker has created an album with radio-friendly productions, and he’s proved that his abilities stretch further than bass-fuelled instrumentals. Other than the now-ancient ‘Tron’, instrumental productions showcase completely unpredictable variety. The chirpy ‘Milky Way’ combines utopic keys with light-hearted bass lines; rhythmically pieced-together by a simple snare. ‘Level 6’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a mediocre SEGA Mega Drive game – whether that’s a good thing probably depends on how dearly you cherish nostalgic value.
‘Lost’ acts as a natural progression into the darker, grimier productions that tie up the latter half of the record. With the vocals of Buggsy making a considerable appearance, amongst a range of other grime and R&B vocalists, Joker has acknowledged the importance of exhibiting new talent.
It’s a shame that penultimate track ‘Electric Sea’ momentarily lowers the quality of a brilliantly produced record. Unoriginal guest vocals from Jay Wilcox overlaying 90s R&B-style instrumentals sounds misplaced on such a forward-thinking album.
‘The Magic Causeway’ is the perfect final-destination, a heavier contrast to the floaty introductory track. For a man with such high expectations from the bass scene, Joker has pretty much hit every nail on the head. Bass fans will be happy, those in need of some experimental listening have plenty to explore, and there’s more than one opportunity for a track on this record to reach the commercial market.
Joker – The Vision