But as anyone will tell you, quality tends to win out over quantity and this is certainly the case for Joe. His sound definitely has a signature: built on basslines that would make even a Funktion-One soundsystem creak, melodies are few and far between and playful hooks are King. Everything is stripped back to only that which is required. Drums are tight and polished, sounds are layered but never to bulging point and production values are treated with the necessary seriousness. Take Joe’s track R.E.J. Bit, forthcoming on Hemlock Recordings Chapter One, a mixtape from Hemlock owner Untold to mark the label’s twentieth release. This one has been making my head nod for the past month, all because of a jaunty riff that carries the track from its tentative intro right through to the stomping bass a minute in and then as far as the outro where Joe’s clean, snare-laden drums peter out to a lone tambourine. In its simplicity, this is everything that’s right about bass music.
If you’re not a Joe aficionado, have a slurp on the recently released MB / Studio Power On (Hemlock), MB a meandering Brazil-infused roller and Studio Power On a jolting, smashing workout of bass and drum. Then there’s Twice, released on Hessle Audio compilation 116 & Rising last year. This one builds and builds with a clamour until we hear a conversation you might hold with your local hi-fidelity sound reproduction equipment purveyor:
Shop assistant: “So basically, you’re getting twice the bass with the TK421 which we’ve, er, got available in this system right here”.
Customer: “I don’t know…I don’t know if I really need all that bass”.
Shop assistant: “Oh I think you need all that bass. [Laughing] If you want a system that can handle what you want…”
Boom. Bass and piano kick-in to create an almost tribal cacophony. By contrast, Claptrap is hostile from the start, grunting, wheezing and clapping its way along in a carnival hussle.
This is not the music to accompany an oozing chocolate dessert in an M&S ad. Indeed, I doubt Joe’s sound will grace anything other than a dark, sweaty club in the wee small hours of the night. Everything in its right place and all that.
Hemlock Recordings Chapter One is released on 12 November.