Album Review: Joakim | Milky Ways

Originally published in Time Out Chicago: TOC | Joakim



!k7Versatile Records

in•die \in-dê\adj + dis•co \dis-ko \ n + tech•no \tek-nõ\ n

The opening seconds of “Back to Wilderness,” the lead track from French techno provocateur Joakim’s third album, initially sound like circus music on nitrous. A gaseous haze of background noise—from animals to muted voices to horn sections—fills the air before it finally congeals around grumbling guitar and heavy, distinctly rock drumming. You’d never know this was supposed to be an electronic record. Regardless, Joakim makes one hell of an entrance.

Psych-rock freak-outs aside, the multifaceted artist we’re familiar with eventually surfaces as the punky disco bounce of “Ad Me” takes over. With its poppy piano chords and punchy bass, it bears a more striking resemblance to his past releases on eclectic Parisian techno label Versatile (licensed stateside by electronic label !K7).

His latest single, “Spiders,” meets somewhere in the middle of his varied sensibilities, sprinkling Italo discolike keyboard work over beefy 4/4 drums, epic strings and a hint of undulating acid bass work before—at three minutes in—everything fades away, leaving a lone guitar and an indie-esque vocal choir that would make Broken Social Scene proud.

For Joakim, there’s no such thing as formulaic, and this all-encompassing record is no exception. Rock, techno, acid, disco, pop, downbeat and psychedelia collide in one big bang that leaves in its wake a beauteous aural universe where conformity in dance music is irrelevant—even passé— and complexity becomes infinitely listenable.


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