Emotional Joystick
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Emotional Joystick

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"Igloo Mag Bellicose Pacific Review"

I've had this album sitting on my shelf for a few months and it was still unopened, starting to gather dust. I picked it up on the strong recommendation of a friend, but recently I had started losing enthusiasm towards some of the current Zod projects and made excuses for not having the time to check it out. Don't get me wrong- Zod has some truly superb releases. My first Zod record, Destro’s ZOD.MIX.02 immediately floored me- and it still does years later with every listen. Exillon’s EP 1 gets quite a few rotations these days and I also liked a number of the earlier releases, but it seemed an emphasis was starting to be placed on DSP ingenuity rather than musical content. I'll admit it is a matter of taste- without fail, one of the trademarks of a Zod release is stellar production, but at a certain point (with limited spending power and listening time) one has to make choices and I was starting to stray from the Milwaukee-based collective. I wasn't more than a few tracks into the 48-minute Bellicose Pacific before I realized that Mr. Wincek was going to make me feel like an absolute fool for sleeping on this album. It is a very mature and impeccably refined work- every track so well developed musically and crafted with precision. It’s hard to pin down a particular style or theme- the beats race through drum n bass, hiphop, gabber, jazz, video game, and breakcore influences effortlessly without ever losing the listener. However, one unifying element is Emotiona Joystick’s wonderful sense of melody and harmonic movement. Extending beyond the progressions of individual songs, the tracks set each other up so well that I rarely find myself skipping around the CD. As a complete piece- it works well from beginning to end, but for the selectas- there is something for everyone. There certainly are no shortage of tracks that could rock the party- the hypnotically groove-tastic “Next Time” and “Hardcore .1,” “Disfunked,” with its distorted hip-hop breaks and tweaked out bass lines, and the brutally raw “Rotterdam” would ignite any dance floor... but there are plenty of choices for the headphone nodders as well. The epic “Muddy and Sloppy” juxtaposes atmospheric arpeggios against broken beats, peaking at what sounds like a momentary gabber hoe-down, but is brought full circle with the re-introduction of the original arpeggiations. “Patch32” took a little while to grow on me, until I realized I had been unknowingly humming the melody in my head for the past couple days. Rather infectious, really. If I had heard this album back when it was originally released, it easily would have found itself next to Leafcutter John’s Housebound Spirit and Donna Summer’s This Needs To Be Your Style as one of my favorite of the year. Kind of embarrassing that it had just been sitting there all that time, but I guess it is better to show up late to the party than not at all… Highly recommended.

- by Mad E.P. - Igloo Magazine


"Absorb Magazine Review of Bellicose Pacific"

departing from vinyl-only status, emotionaljoystick makes the leap to the cd full-length with twelve tracks that should hopefully solidify his presence as a major player in the current state of contemporary electronic composition. varied styles, drawing from a plethora of genres, merge together to create one album that both challenges and stimulates the listener. collected tracks from his first two 12" for zod, along with two new tracks showcase music with the same abrasive intensity as venetian snares, but with much more of a soul and heart behind it. gorgeous melody and moodiness lurks beneath the surface, just as visible and influential as the pounding break-core that exists on top. the hybrid contrast that they create exists on a scale of grand proportions that many current artists attempt to reach but few do as successfully as ej manages to. as a fan of all the previous material i've heard from emotionaljoystick, this release is the logical next step, to ensure listening at the right speed, the newest exclusive tracks, and an archive to the vinyl. this can convince the people without turntables that they need to invest, and to let mike paradinis and aaron funk know they need to watch out, as the new kid in school is getting stronger, bigger, faster, and much more powerful than they are at the moment.

-Philip Raffaele - Absorb Magazine


"Selekta Magazine Bellicose Pacific Review"

I visited the Zod Records site and actually completed a Selekta Artist Profile on Emotional Joystick before attempting to write this review, partly because of ignorance, partly because of intimidation. This album is a rarity, filled with amalgams of frenzied breaks, haunting melodies, strings and impeccable programming.

Eerie keys, akin to a wind-up music box, open up "eight", the first tune on Emotional Joystick's newest release, Bellicose Pacific (Zod Records). The keys meet a chorus of strings and then a slick downtempo beat jumps in for the ride. Without the mood shifting away from this rather melancholy theme, this beat infects the melody, becoming a junglist tangent akin to Plug's Drum n' Bass For Papa or m-ziq's Lunatic Harness.

Drum loops decay and echo amidst noisy sweeps of static, odd sound loops and heavy analog bass. Yet, the whole time, it comes back to the varying hip hop and drum & bass breakbeats, torn apart and thrown together in a Frankenstein manner, and the varying melodic shifts that consistently evoke a dark image, perhaps of a bleak future, or maybe a bad trip--I mean vacation, of course. For music like this to come from an artist named Emotional Joystick is anything but false advertising. Take the strings in “hollowsquare” for instance, and notice how they escalate to a symphonic collage with wildly changing keys, then conclude, in a sort of calm, serene suite, like the end sequence of a film that follows a battle scene, only to drop metallic, downbeat breaks once more and fizzle out with static.

This sort of programming pervades every track on Bellicose Pacific, and to say that it’s hard to get past the fifth track without rewinding at least once, is truly saying a great deal; most album-length electronic music offerings lack the substance to keep a listener enthralled for the duration.

“Patch 32” involves a brilliant percussive pattern, sustained synth loop, and sinister bass stabs, leading perfectly into the hard, crunchy bassline and LFO action on “disfunked”.

Must-hear tracks are indeed “rotterdam” and “ignite”'; the former opens with vocal confirmation, then a lone synth patch that quickly meets the metallic, gun-fire-style of breakbeat mayhem to follow. Never straying from the haunting mood of his melody here, Joystick outlines a score to brutal emotional attack, though the conclusion could have been more creative than a simple fadeout. The latter, “ignite”, uses its cascading, delayed key loop and layers it well over epic atmospherics and strings and random one-shots. Choppy basslines and a steady break will have your head nodding, while still looking up at the blue sky and saying: "damn, so good..."

-by droopy - Selekta Magazine


"XLR8R magazine Bellicose Pacific Review"

Belicose Pacific, the first full-length from EmotionalJoystick (a.k.a Thomas Wincek), toes a strange line between melodic and chaotic. While tracks such as “Eight”employ Wincek’s signature 8-bit sounds for a structured, almost pretty effect, others abrade the senses with spattered breakcore histrionics a la Venetian Snares orSquarepusher. (There’s even a jackhammer-on-the-backboard track entitled “Rotterdam”) Bellicose Pacific is more thoughtful than a mere drill & bass exercise; with most tracks meandering between the two extremes, with lush strings and moody melodies advancing and retreating unexpectedly from the complicated drumpatterns.

-Anna Balkrishna
- XLR8R


"Grooves Magazine Bellicose Pacific Review"

The cutesy CD title sums up the duality EmotionalJoystick has heretofore shown on two 12-inches: hard techno and breakcore elements that align him to his Zod label mates (the "bellicos"). as well as more IDM influences that make him the kinder, gentler side to the label (the "pacific"). The album collects the tracks off his previous Zod EPs, while adding two new tracks to whet previous fans' appetites.

The first new track, "Majik Johnson," reveals that Thomas Wincek has been listening to his breakcore, after all, though his braindance synth action provides a refreshing musical element to the track. Not surprising, since a fair number of tracks here have the faux-orchestral sweep (especially "Next Time" and "The Remmington") that was the hallmark of vintage mu-ziq. In its three minutes, the other new track "Tonight is a Lie", lays out a battle between the dueling elements of drum n' bass circa 1997: electric piano keys like it was a Roni Size song, but the type of tuff beats that launched Dj Scud and his army. Why he'd want to to rehash a conflict that's ancient history in the electronic music world is beyond me, but then again, he's the one that seems fascinated by contradiction. Luckily for the rest of us, Wincek makes good tracks out of his conflicting elements.

-susanna bolle - Grooves magazine


Discography

Releases:

Zod 03 (12") Zod
EP 2 (12") Zod
Bellicose Pacific (CD) Zod
Orange / Fingerhut (7") Zod
PLAYS! (CD) Zod

Remixes:
We Are The Pervert Volumes One And Two (2x12") Nerve Picking (Through a Guitar Mix) - Zod
Jed EP (CD) Jed Hot Licks - Eupholus Records
Habitat (CD) Bossa Neuvo (Emotional Joystick mix) - M-Tronic
Spooky Pen (12") Spooky Pen (Strictly Pen and Teller Mix) - Component Records

Tracks Appear On:
Zod 01 (12") Daeorganic - Zod
Zod Mix.02 (CD) Patch 32, Hollow Square - Zod
Grounded Sound (CD) Finding Out - Grounded Records
Ye Olde Barn Compilation (CD) I'm Not Elton John And Dan Can Suck It - Addict
Ye Olde Barn Compilation (12") I Am Not Elton John And Dan Can Suck It - Addict
Baseck: Live @ 2939 (CD) Eight - Addict
Dura Matters (2x12") This Time - Zod
Dura Matters (CD) This Time - Zod
Radio Worm 48 (CDr) Ask Me No Questions - Worm Records
State-X New Forms Festival (CD) Muddy And Sloppy - Gonzo Circus
Crimson (CD) I Got the Hits And Pary Jams Vol 35 - Terminal Dusk

Photos

Bio

Interested in putting a new "I" (Improvised) into the unfortunate term "IDM", Emotional Joystick has worked on bringing an improvised edge to the performance of experimental electronic dance music for years. His earlier incorporation of fender Rhodes playing during live performances has extended to include large sections of completely free improvised sound, as well as utilizing the talents of other likeminded musicians on stage and off. Blending his technical abilities as a musician with homemade electronics and computer programs of his own design, his live shows and recordings are definitely a welcome change for those fed up with the typical staleness of laptop performances. As an artist, EmotionalJoystick has had a string of successful releases on Zod records, as well as appearances on labels such as Component, Addict, M-Tronic, Grounded, Eupholus and more. His newest album, "Plays" changes focus slightly from his earlier recordings, and puts more emphasis on his skills as a keyboard player. Still using the abrasive drums and complex rhythms, his newer work has more of a live feel to it, with fluid jazz and dub inspired structures. He has also played all over the United States and Europe, and has been invited to play alongside such acts as Tortoise, Venetian Snares, No Means No, Dillinger Escape Plan, Otto von Shirach, Doormouse, and Eight Frozen Modules, among others.