The UK bass music pioneer returns to his comfort zone
Throughout most of the last decade, UK bass culture was engaged in a hectic game of ‘wot-u-call-it?’, with critics, clubbers and producers alike trying to stake out the boundaries of grime, dubstep and so on as the earth shook beneath them. It was the emergence of Bristol’s Joker – and like-minded peers Rustie and Hudson Mohawke – who pretty much did in the concept of genre for good. Not aggro enough for grime, too slinky for dubstep, Joker’s sinuous, melodic productions earned him the pleasingly non-specific tag ‘purple’. Sadly, his crossover-styled 2011 album ‘The Vision’ didn’t quite set the world alight, and the four-track EP ‘Head Top’ finds him back in his comfort zone. Not that there’s anything deeply wrong with the wistful soulstep of ‘Deserted Island’ or the industrial throb of ‘Head Top’, but the only real keeper here is ‘Mario Ting’, an artful mix of chiptune melody and trap stomp that sounds like a drive-by shooting in a MarioKart level.