Joe – ‘Punters Step Out / Club Scared’ (Hemlock Recordings)

In an age of carefully concealed identities and cryptically written biographies, few producers are blessed with such god-given weirdness as Joe. We have access to press shots, we’ve seen him DJ and we even have a relatively brief but recent interview to fall back on, yet there’s still something about the guy which remains wonderfully and resolutely odd. Returning to Hemlock for the first time this year for his second release in as many months, Joe does little across these two tracks to convince us that he is anything less than a bit mad.

Where last month’s offering on Hessle dealt in House and Techno in its most vaguely recognisable forms, this latest double salvo is an almost complete departure from the familiar, taking us further down the zany rabbit hole of Joe’s mind. ‘Punters Step Out’ leads off with an inebriated Hammond organ careering between a giddy Calypso inflected lilt and reverb drenched nausea, creating an atmosphere that’s at once wide eyed and profoundly disorientating. Always one to pack a punch on the rhythm section, Joe equips the track with a Dubby low end and some nicely un-quantised percussion, pulling it away from going fully through the looking glass and keeping things definitively danceable throughout. The occasional interjection of what sounds not unlike feedback from a headphone jack may be a dealbreaker for some DJ’s but for those unperturbed it just serves as a complement to ‘Punters Step Out”s lunatic strut.

Based on top of a percussive stomp filtered in and out of focus, is ‘Club Scared’ on the B-Side. If the rhythm may seem a little orthodox compared to recent offerings, Joe makes up for this by garnishing proceedings with an abundance of bizarre sound effects. The central vocal sample with its plea for us to ‘stop listening’ is guaranteed to generate a least a few headfucks on dancefloors up and down the land when played out, as will the party bag of unusual noises that Joe unloads on the track throughout. With the groove accumulating a kind of feral intensity whilst the cartoon silliness continue on top, ‘Club Scared’ is a deceptively effective little number capable of really shaking up the dance.

Sounding more himself than ever before, ‘Punters Step Out / Club Scared’ finds Joe indulging his fertile mind’s every whim and coming up trumps. Always relatively stingy when it comes to unleashing his brilliance on the wider world, lets hope 2014 has more than a few gems from Joe in it.

‘Punters Step Out/Club Scared’ is out now on Hemlock.

Christian Murphy

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