Joker, Skitta / I Think You Should Know


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For a short while in 2008, Joker was one of the most hyped new artists working in dubstep. But while the Technicolor synth swirls that were his audio watermark acted as a welcome subterfuge to the more leaden, grayscale excesses of a tired dubstep scene, that early promise was not quite fulfilled. Indeed his 2011 debut album, The Vision, felt like too little too late, relying on the inclusion of tired anthems alongside increasingly garish plays for mainstream radio. Unfortunately, this new single for his Kapsize imprint is not much of an improvement, bringing a grating trance sensibility to the table. “Skitta” starts promisingly enough, with some seriously crunchy beats evoking memories of early bangers like “Purple City.” This is forgotten, however, as rising trance synth pads break proceedings before the drop. The drop itself stutters along, cutting up aforementioned pads, before being met by an incessant riff that would not have sounded out of place on a Paul van Dyk Gatecrasher mix CD. Ouch.

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“I Think You Should Know” — which appears in both full vocal (featuring Newham Generals) and extended instrumental versions — fairs a touch better. Newham Generals are known on the grime scene for a dazzling lyrical dexterity, but their vocal does not sit tight enough on this beat — that ever-present synth work detracting from their rapid-fire vocal delivery. That said, the instrumental is solid — and by far the best thing about this release, using crisp stepping beats and synths that stays just the right side of warped. Joker is clearly a talented producer who has locked down a sound that is not simply original, but unmistakably his own — something some producers strive their entire careers for and never achieve. However, it is surely now time to switch things up. This release sounds tired, and for a producer whose sound has so often been larger than life, that’s pretty sad.

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