Berlin-based Joal demonstrates his stylistic range on this varied five-tracker
Sasse’s imprint delivers five finely tuned cuts ranging from house and breakbeat to indie-dance, courtesy of the Joal AKA META4, a Portuguese veteran of the Berlin house and techno scene. It’ll come as no surprise upon hearing these tracks to learn that Joal has been releasing music for well over a decade, alongside acting as A&R for revered digital imprint Monog since 2013. There’s a maturity to his productions that outclasses many who’ve been in the game much longer.
We embark on Joal's maiden solo voyage for Moodmusic with Zola Is Sleeping. a slick slice of quirky, at times psychedelic house that’s built around a refreshingly different two-note bassline which sits below tight, crisp drums. Subtle pads and short. sharp chord hits are teased into peripheral focus, and upon the first drop we’re greeted by a sporadic acid line that’s akin to those early Hawtin outings as Plastikman. Gradually the subtle elements become constants and we’re into a delightfully groovy, rolling melody that in time is joined by a swirling retro synth, both of which help the track shuffle along into the main break. This is where things get slightly shamanic as the acid line and retro synth switch into constantly present hypnotic patterns with a voice-style pad also joining the dance. Then, just as you expect things to start dropping out, Joal uses the one last trick he’s been hiding up his sleeve, flipping the whole thing back to that delightful groove that pulled us along so willingly into the main break.
Second to the party is Abomination, a brooding, bleepy affair which also employs the Plastikman-esque acid line, albeit as more of a constant this time, along with ethereal sounding pads and robotic vocals. Allez Fur Die Katz maintains the deeper vibe of its predecessor but with more energy, along with greater use of the robo vocals, and a “proper breakdown” for the track's finale. Tell Their Story is up next, which takes up the allocated breakbeat allowance for the release: again it’s deep and bleepy, but this time with a more progressive feel. And then to play us out we have the epic feel of Red Orange, making up the indie-dance quota with cosmic synths and the release’s funkiest bassline.
Overall, Joal marks his first full EP for Moodmusic with a variety of sounds, with a few little surprises here and there but always filled with quality ideas and always slickly executed.
Words: Iain Taylor
Release date: 23 April
Review Score: 8