Release Date: Feb 16, 2015
Record label: N/A
It all seemed straightforward enough. Back in 2011, Joker's The Vision was a pop-move faceplant that squandered the momentum he'd built off his early singles. Faithful still copped the instrumentals, but a cred renewal project seemed like the best next move, and a couple fairly strong EPs on Kapsize seemed to stave off the worst fears. 2013's The Face Off and 2014's Head Top were back to the wheelhouse—heaving bass wobbles that stayed sinuous even when they sounded like groaning crushed metal, melodies that reinjected some of grime's heightened delirium into the UK bass continuum, and drums that flipped from leadfoot stomping to counter-rhythmic intricacy without stopping up the motions.
You can't deny that Joker knows how to create drama. The single constant thread running through almost his entire output – from the original late-noughties EPs all the way up to his visceral 040 releases with Swindle early last year – is an appreciation of the theatrical. In part, you can put this down as a manifestation of his self-confidence (which, if you read any interviews with him, soon becomes apparent beneath the easy-going façade).
When dubstep went global, its most successful artists met a variety of fates. Some migrated to house and techno, while some stuck with an increasingly limited formula. Some, like Skream, ascended to bigger things. Others aimed just as high, and undershot spectacularly. Way back in 2008, the ….
Bristol’s Liam McLean rose to national attention during the dubstep gold rush of 2009, but the man they call Joker wouldn’t be forced into anyone’s niche. His opulent, melody-stuffed productions owed as much to video-game music and American R&B as they did to the gloomy London bass fraternity, and he even had a name for his music – the evocative but abstract ‘purple wow’. Despite some killer tunes, such as 2008 Rustie collaboration ‘Play Doe’ and 2009 Hyperdub single ‘Digidesign’, he’s struggled with a full-length.