Joey Anderson - Rainbow Doll (Avenue 66, 2020)
One of contemporary dance music's most captivating music makers only further cements his status on his excellent third long play, that remains as bold and uniquely sonic as ever.
To weave many strands that make up a voice in today's dance music landscape is a tricky task, but for some it comes quite naturally and helps to provide guiding lights through to persistent excellence. We are constantly drawn to those who craft their own narrative, their own vision, one that was formed through listening, engaging and creating, a audial landscape that becomes filled with releases that simply strengthen our relationship with that music maker's sound identity. Sometimes it comes across as a micro evolution, a small step forward within a sea of others who wish to do the same, with the bringing of new elements and variations to the table still pleasant to the ears and somewhat refreshing to the mind. But there are those producers who have built upon their craft to embolden those steps, to lead the way for others to make their moves via their highly creative sounds which to do much to broaden the horizons of genres. Its a notion that is bestowed upon the forward thinkers, the producers with a style that broadens and refines itself with each passing release, grounded in the dips and weaves of the contemporary musical landscape but has a keen eye for the past but a sharper one for the future. The music created swells the dance floor with meaning and passion just as much as it entices the mind during a home listen, engaging on nearly every level and able to reflect and shape the mood or context. Within genres such as house and techno, where so many corners have been established and foundations written and rewritten, its even more impressive to emerge from within to delve forward and cross hybridise the best of both worlds, creating a fluid style that merges the two broad genres within a venn diagram of boundary pushing, audial excellence and tonal manipulation. The crossroads of sound seems to be the continual goal of these producers, yearning to add complexity to their sonic mapping by probing the boundaries of not just their own sound, but the conceptions of what might become and develop from their explorations, something which develops into a very powerful impulse if one has an open mindset and an insatiable creative endeavour. No stone left unturned, no passage of keys and drums unexplored, no sequence of melodicness remaining behind, merely coming together into segments that showcase the depths of an artist at one with their craft, pushing forward our pre conceived notions of electronic music as we emerge from listening to their music with fresh perspectives and enlarged minds. Its the steps forward that make the difference, in our visions and our passions, and we need these kinds of music makers to lead the way in creating those leaps and bounds into new musical spaces and places.
If intrinsic creativity and flair is something that fits your musical world view, along with aligning yourself with sounds that follow their own path and form, then look no further than the musical stylings of New Jersey producer Joey Anderson for continued inspiration and undoubted sonic pleasure. Anderson has always followed his own path when undertaking the creation of music, with his sound lying somewhere elastically between the broad realms of house and techno, but always managing to flirt between the two even when the vibe is leaning either one way or the other, not quite purist techno but not really 100% house either, and that presentation lies very much in the mindset of Anderson and the manner in which he conjures up tracks. Perhaps its his experience as a youth dancing the night away to the electric sounds of New York's most iconic underground clubs, or indeed his mantra of not copying musical styles of contemporaries and established producers, that has allowed Anderson to follow the path he finds himself on now, concious of the experiences he soaked in but also eager to carve out his own spot in the ongoing narrative. To say he has achieved that is perhaps an understatement, as Anderson gleams between the temporal plains of house and techno with ease, with his touch felt all over the strata of his tracks, his feelings and personality resonating from each hat, each key, each twist and curvature. His use of galaxy defining synths do much to craft mood, creating visions of places and spaces that dwell deep within our awakened consciousness with their tone and texture, as their sequences unravel around expertly placed drumming patterns that craft such intrigue with their sound design and feel. Anderson goes further than most to nurture a sense of progression in his outputs, where the moves between EPs and LPs seem natural and organic but always find the space to accommodate big leaps or significant deviations that keep the heart rates always racing. Its the little flourishes here and there, the ones that dwell deep within his tracks, that craft a high sense of engagement with the comings and goings, as flickers of keys and pads filter across the spectrum like cascading lights in the urban realm, aligning themselves with the pulses that make techno so majestic and with the key work that makes house so euphoric. All of these features come together to provide emotive experiences that play along to our energies and our inner mindsets, giving over to us music that is intelligently crafted to provide the fullest of sounds, sounds that come straight from the vision of a producer with a strong as hell voice and a lot to say as a result. Looking through his discography, there is much to celebrate, as each release provides a somewhat differing character to the last, but as a spectrum of records operate brilliantly as a collective unit, with both the 'After Forever' (2014) and 'Invisible Switch' (2015) LPs excellent forays into the expanded universe in which Anderson inhibits, with that patented hybridisation of house and techno on full display. His EP work remains very much as beautiful snapshots into that expanded universe, pin pointing moments found on the LPs and simply expanding upon them in a myriad of ways. Some of our favourites include the timely vibes and otherworldy backdrop that makes up the exquisite 'Earth Calls' record, that arrived in 2012; the haunting breeziness and emotive excellence that exudes from the 'From One Mind To The Other' EP, that arrived in 2013; the soft gentle caresses that wash over us on the breezy synth charged 'Fall Off Face' record, that also arrived in 2013; the dynamic and continually shifting audial landscapes that dwell within the 'Head Down Arms Buddha Position' record, that landed in 2014; the wondeous variety that fills the room we inhibit that is found on the excellent 'Dozen Roses' record, that arrived in 2016; the utterly transfixing soundscapes that reside within the timeless 'Staring Into The Pond' record, that arrived in 2017; and finally, the superb feels that resonate from the 'One Single Thought' record, that arrived last year. In all, Anderson's music is quite the trip, providing us with highly enriching experiences that encompass all manner of moods, textures and environments, providing us with so many contexts and spaces in which we can loose ourselves eternally. Its testament to Anderson's superb sound design and compositional choices that allows this to occur, for he is a producer who treads the line superbly in order to achieve maximum feels and the ultimate level of engagement in proceedings. His sound is very much a unique one, one that is intrinsic to himself and one that will remain his no matter what, and that ever shifting horizon line just became a little bit more broader. If you wish to take a dip back through some heavenly delights, then we highly recommend you go back and have a little gander at his works, you seriously won't be disappointed.
And now we arrive at his latest offering, 'Rainbow Doll', that lands on the Acid Test sublabel Avenue 66, of which Anderson has released on previously, with the LP representing his first full length in five years. The lucidity that captures the imagination remains very much core to the experience on this one, as sequences resembling far away fluctuations and deep dwelling morphologies intertwine as beautifully as ever, but its the little things that emerge which begin to showcase yet another side to Anderson's sound. From the off we are greeted with vocal work, something that is somewhat aloof in previous works (save for the odd vocal sample) but apply themselves here brilliantly, allowing for a new dimension of sonics to be appreciated and dwelled deep within, with Anderson's continually fluxing audial plains lending themselves to highly expressive voices who look to ride every melodic crest. The pace is somewhat chuggier overall, with its slightly less kinetic pace meaning that every moment can be captured and felt with meaning and pure joy. So, without further delay, lets dip into this new thing of beauty..........
Up first comes 'My Dream', and the opening salvo gives us a taste of things to come. The key riff quickly gives way to a series of sporadic drumming elements, spaced out impeccably to craft a sense of charging up, of processing the inputs and springing the track into life, as a vocal line leaps out across the tundra of hats and kicks. The melodic features sprinkle themselves across the top ends of the cut, providing a intermediate of sorts between the longing vocal lines that slide across the surface, as the drums provide the momentums that fuel proceedings. The key work feels so alive, placed and manipulated with the slightest of hands in order to craft a sense of presence and vitality, continually seeking for new places and moments in which to inhibit and move within. Its a gorgeous tune, and one that opens the record up to endless possibilities. Up next comes 'Heaven Help Us', and this one begins with the dual key sequences leading the way through the mists and the densities. Like two oppositional energies, their attractions and repels come in the form of little flourishes that permeate and explode with life on both sides of the panning, encouraging each other to push further outwards as time passes by, with new elements placed in to provide an additional sense of forward momentum. The light hats that align themselves with the middle aspect of the track call the track into action, with Anderson now content with our experience of the synth sequences complete, the time to move into a rhythmic structure is complete, with the kicks and light percussive touches moving into view to complete the picture. In full flow its quite the sight, providing a totality in experience thats both emotionally charged and rhythmically compulsive, all of which builds and builds until we arrive at the fullest of pad sweeps. The chord progression may only be between two, but their feel and presence feel so right, acting as an excellent contrast to the intricate and densely layered undertones. Their solidness washes over us an immeasurable amount of times, as our minds are moved once more into newer realms of understanding and feels. Stunning. 'Beside Me' arrives next, and this one begins in new territories. Kicks underpin a repeating key line that interacts with the mid section, with both elements working as one to make up the main rhythmic foundation, and before long we are joined with explosive key work that drift in and out of vision, flittering around as if they long for comfort and presence, but always remain just out of touch. The vocals cut right through the sea of mounting melodies, its tone one of longing and yearning, telling a story of a forlorn figure who desires and wishes, filtering in and out of view and the keys take the lead in moving the track between differing phases. The voice and the keys take turn to join forces or strike out on their own, with this approach creating a sense of progression that is like no other, with a seemingly unstructured approach but at the same time feels so calculated, brilliantly pulled off by a producer with the end goal in sight, his personality shining through so effortlessly as each bar passes by. The drums pause for a moment, but before long we ride back along right through the imaginings and the meanderings of the mind, breezing through a shared consciousness that breathes and moves together. There ain't no other experience like this one.
Up next comes 'Ocean', and this one takes the tones to new spaces indeed. The core beat swings to its own internal vibrations, breezing through the morning light as little repeating key lines permeate through the hazy beat structure, with layerings of chords and pads following soon after. Their tone and feel expand and contract across the plains, as vocal snippets peak out and call across the tundra of sonics, with varying key lines moving on top of one another in order to feature within the passage of time. The track has a highly hypnotic feel to it, as its slowed nature provides gaps for all the melodic goodness to flow from every corner, content in giving over to us all we need, as this track places us in yet another vortex like experience that is so easy to fall in love with. Stunner. Up next comes 'Live It', and the tempo gets upped a little bit with this one. The kicks and hats burst out of the gate with added gusto, as the bass line moves with a formidable energy underneath, and before long we are joined by peaking chords in the distance, with their tone allowed to move onwards and upwards for a significant amount of time. As their initial flow comes to an end, the keys start to burst into life, as the three note progression occupies the mid section of the track with additional drumming lines moving underneath and above the core rhythmic foundation. Its yet another entrancing blend of beats and keys, as both sets of stories interact with brilliantly with each other, crossing over each others paths and meandering to the tones and textures presented by both, as little variations in drumming patterns provide a sense of rhythmic development that remains an ever present in this album's blueprint. The vocal sample develops a mind of its own, calling out across the spectrum to provide us with an whirlpool of feels to dip within forevermore. Up next comes 'Bounce With It', and this one begins off with the impeccable drumming structure leading the way. The keys float and glisten through the structures, softly applying themselves into the backdrop with increasing intensity, and before long we find the bass line moving along within the murky depths, adding another layer into the onward progressions. The rising chordal lines craft yet another sequence into the momentum, and by now we are fully transfixed by the march onwards, totally absorbed into the motions that bind this track together. The acid line that emerges around the mid way mark sees the track move into another phase, one where the drums respond with energy and shift gears in order to match the growing intensity, as the track plays itself out into the night, to soundtrack some mystique laden dance somewhere.
Up next comes 'Cindy', and this one kicks off with yet another layered sequencing that immediately captures the imagination. The feel is one of softness, a tender embrace that wraps itself around us with its gentle caress, a notion that is made all the more special as the key progression comes into view, with a string like singular chord ringing out across the spectral plain. The combination of sequences and chordal tones is transfixing, its spectrum of tone and application is remarkable to the ears, exciting us with its flow and density as it accommodates our various wonderings within its deep caresses. Like a series of continual waves, the music washes over us, soaking itself into the neurones and the deep crevasses of our thinking, a feeling that is made all the more powerful with the vocals that reach out across the cut and speak directly to us, riding along the sea of sound with meaning and passion. Just wow. To wrap things up, we have 'Can Not', and this one sums up the experience in a very neat little bow. Its intro leads us directly into the thick of it, as the charged up beat provides the foundation for the expressive keys to laden themselves into the progressions, neatly moving between reverberating chordal arrangements and deep diving chordal lines, as their tones filter right through the hats and cymbals to reach the very bottom of the depths on display. Its a fitting end to an album filled with Anderson's displays of organic key work and intelligent drum compositions, both of which align themselves within a spectrum of his visions for music creation, a deft and unique voice that keeps on giving over to us long after the needle has stopped.
Joey Anderson is no ordinary producer, and this record is yet another affirmation of his broad ranging talents. Anderson has always approached his works with an organic touch and a very much humanistic feel, where the drums and keys work in tandem to provide engagements which fuse and flux right before our eyes, a motion filled with layers that sing to the heartstrings and beat to the heart. This album is no different, and shows how Anderson is continually searching within his works to provide a certain feel that only he can provide, one that remains grounded in how applying passionate rhythmic tendencies into music can lead to sublime results. This record shows Anderson at his most pulsating, focusing on differing tempos in order to explore all angles and facets so that each track fits within a certain template yet remains highly individual in its tone and mood. Its craftmanship at its very finest, but also at its most bold and innovative, and for us it remains one of this years very best records.
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