It’s been a long road for Joker. His initial run of incendiary singles (’07-’10) set up impossibly high expectations for a college-aged kid. After a disappointing 2011 debut album, mired by mediocre vocal tracks and overt commercial aspirations, Joker didn’t release anything for a year. When he finally did, it was a Sega-inspired chiptune mini-album that honestly felt like a petulant ‘fuck you’ to everyone that expected more purple dubstep. Like he was saying ‘oh, you didn’t like my commercial album? Well I’m going to go play with my toys’.
I never gave up hope though. And recently he uploaded some fresh tracks that satisfy fans of his old material while showing some meaningful evolution as an artist. 2 months ago, he put up a free download called Arabian Nights, a laid-back 140 beat with those trademark layered synths. Then a month ago, a new 4 tracker, the Head Top EP, embedded below.
These tracks are everything I loved about Joker, but with some exciting new directions. Jazzy production touches, more variations in beat structure, and adventurous new synth timbres all build on his classic sound. It’s notable how skillfully he’s incorporated overtly 8-bit patches into his lush production (this is especially apparent on the first two tracks, Mr Miyagi and Mario Ting). While his sega album sounded like an electronic music period piece, this new EP is clearly looking forward. In combination with the 80s cultural references in the track names, they play as an effective (if not particularly subtle) homage to his roots.
Two weeks ago, two more tracks appeared on his soundcloud – collaborations with Swindle that showcase two synth geniuses at the top of their game.
But what really brought it home for me was this NYE upload, a flip of the classic Biggie Smalls vocal from Juicy.
Once again, the classic Joker sound is in full effect. If anything his synths sound even more bombastic than usual, while his use of negative space in the beat makes for delicious tension and release. And then there’s that wonky handclap that sound like something out of FlyLo’s book. Taking all this new material in aggregate, I have to conclude that Joker is back.
And there couldn’t be a better time for it, with an upcoming NYC show at Meanred’s Dark Disco on Saturday, February 8th (co-headlined by MartyParty). And oh yeah, we’ll be giving away a pair of tickets to that, so make sure you’re following us on twitter or subscribed to the WompList for your chance to win.
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