Joakim Milky Ways Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Its styles and influences as cleverly threaded as they are eclectic.

Noel Gardner 2009

Frenchman and professional genre-splicer Joakim Bouaziz is arguably as well known for his remixes of electronic crossover artists like Annie, Simian Mobile Disco and Late of the Pier, plus his post-punk/electro/whatever-he-fancies-really label, Tigersushi, as he is for his own productions.

What chance, though, of third studio album Milky Ways reaching a wide enough audience to render his own creations the primary focus in the minds of the modern dancefloor dweller? A tough question: there are moments of shimmering, sleek accessibility, but elsewhere Joakim makes it clear he’s not gunning for a commercial breakout this time round.

The opening track, all eight minutes of it, is likely to be a shock to the system of even (especially?) Joakim’s long-term fans: Back to Wilderness runs on crashing, slow-motion metal drums and wickedly distorted analogue keys, and lands somewhere between agitating synth-punk duo Suicide and arch metal pranksters the Melvins. It’s great, but will undoubtedly cheese off some.

Thereafter, a sort of familiarity is regained as Ad Me vocoders up its vocals and chops out some prime live disco-funk. Joakim’s keenness to absorb his bionic musical persona into a live band set-up pays dividends on a number of other occasions, too. King Kong Is Dead sets its controls for ‘cosmic’, banks of synths clubbing together to create a wall of soothing whoosh.

Elsewhere, a more machine-driven approach pays off dividends. Spiders, the lead single from Milky Ways, treads a confident line between disco-fied campery and stolid house FX-tweaking, glitterball synths twinkling as the chrome bassline runs around the dancefloor’s outer limits. Anyone thus lulled into thinking it’s going to be a smooth ride from hereon in might have cause to jump out of their skins when the animalistically squealing acid house riffs crop up on Medusa, however.

Joakim’s inbuilt ‘archness’ is present and correct on Milky Ways (check Love & Romance & a Special Person, which has speech synthesis programs declaring nervous offers of courtship) – however, the human touch is tangible throughout, its styles and influences as cleverly threaded as they are eclectic. With any luck, a sly sleeper hit.

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