Review: Jokers of The Scene – J0T5

Y’All Know The Name. Acid Bagg. Revolting Joks. Joking Victim. And now this. J0T5. For their fifth release on Fool’s Gold, Canadian noise-merchants Jokers of The Scene have crafted a five-track EP that is overflowing with ideas that help push their well honed sound in new directions. From spoken-word samples and classic drum breaks to play-on-words titles, it’s heavily indebted to the past while brimming with future possibilities.

The EP opens with Killing Jokes I, an ethereal, ambient opener that hints at shimmering trancey arpeggios and strings that bring us to 90s Ibiza like it ain’t no thing. But then it fades off into oblivion. A fizzing, rasping triplet stab brings Black Mountie to life, and for a little while it almost seems like we’re in Kompakt Speicher territory. But then we’re brought into straight-up 4/4 territory, and an industrial five-note phrase jacks things into full-on club mode. Out of that rasping stab line grows an almost theremin-like synth line that shifts and floats around and becomes the main theme. Then, all of a sudden, there it is. That scuzzy, distorted chord style you from Baggy Bottom Boys and their remixes of Bag Raiders and Salem… And then as it arrives, it’s gone. If this EP tells you anything about this Canadian duo, it’s that they don’t much care for standing still. That main theme floats around in and out of phase like it’s the work of some twisted experimental composer, but over some raucous 123bpm beats.

Jokers of the Scene “Black Mountie” by Jokers of the Scene

In Order To Trance is epic in more ways than one. The opening percussion kicks off in a manner almost reminiscent of – indulge me – Nalin & Kane’s remix of Everytime by Lustral. Bizarrely, we have a snarling bassy lead that reminds me of Riptide’s infamous Amsterdam remix, albeit without that track’s uncompromising dancefloor energy. Then we’ve got a Think break used in a track of this nature for what I assume must be the first time. This track flirts with dancefloor heaviness but is more informed by the same ethereal ambience that launched the EP. But like I said, these guys don’t like standing still. Five minutes in a four-note line takes over and for a brief moment it almosts seems like we’re in straightforward house territory. But this track is called In Order To Trance, not In Order To House. So it’s those big trancey synths that ride it out to the end, as we drift off into the sunset.

Organised Zounds is built around a brief sample from a lecture given by Karlheinz Stockhausen to the Oxford Union in 1972. “Whenever we hear sound we are changed, we are no longer the same, and this is even more the case when we hear organised sound. Music.” This is the closest thing to what one might term a “banger” on this release. Big, booming, bassy chords that build and build toward a relentless crescendo of noise. Only in this case, it’s a little bit different from your average banger, as the end of every phrase is perforated by the word “music” or “sounds”, as spoken by a man regarded as one of the great visionaries of the 20th Century. With its gurgling acid lines and crashing drums, this is one for late nights.

Closer Killing Jokes II picks up where its predecessor left off. If Part I was just a taster, a tantalising intro, then this is the main event. It takes the intro’s ethereal ambience and blasts it from the top of a mountain. Slow-burning, monstrous, imposing, it’s a stunning piece of work that shows the versatility and strength of ideas on offer here and helps prove that they’re more than just party rockers.

Jokers of the Scene “J0T5” EP Teaser by Jokers of the Scene

That said, they know what’s what. A week after the release of J0T5 we’ll be treated to a host of remixes – seven in total – on J0T5 RMXD. Daniel Avery (aka Stopmakingme) strips back the bare bones of Black Mountie to form a percussive club jam built around that delectable five-note phrase, while adding some gorgeous Voodoo Ray-type wails – support’s already there from Mr Andrew Weatherall, a seal of approval if any was needed. Shadow Dancer channel Father Ted and take the same track in a darker, slower direction – this one’s all gurgling synths and portentous basslines. Canadian exponent of “weird dance music” Hrdvsion takes In Order To Trance down to 108 and puts Samir’s Theme-style horns over it – in a minor key. Definitely weird. Savile & Olin meanwhile take a snatch of that track’s melody and twist it into dark melodic techno. Cosmic Kids take Stockhausen’s vocal and lay it over a filtered disco jam, while Gingy & Bordello eschew that vocal for their acid workout Organized Zounds. Closing out the package, recent Truancy Volume-contributor Babe Rainbow somehow manages to turn in a remix of Killing Jokes that’s even more blissful than either original vocal.

Between the mind-bending EP and dancefloor-shattering remix package, the Jokers are starting the year with a bang – you’d be a fool to miss out on this one.

Jokers of The Scene – J0T5 is out on Fool’s Gold Records tomorrow; J0T5 RMXD is out next week

Aidan Hanratty

Dublin ...