Joris Voorn has been around for long enough to be considered a stalwart of the house and techno scene and his first release back in 2002 now seems very distant. As with any artist, his sound has developed and morphed over the years, from his techno beginnings and flirtations with tech house, now we have arrived at ‘Nobody Knows’ via his own imprint Green.
For some, ‘Nobody Knows’ can now be filed in the ‘long-awaited’ category. Having released his last album, ‘From A Deep Place’, back in 2007, Voorn has been fairly quiet on the production front in the last year or so. Not content to just produce another house and techno album to throw on the seemingly endless pile, this LP sees Voorn veer quite ostensibly away from the dance floor.
Opener, ‘The Monk’, sees simple chords loop and interplay with guitars and synths to create what is essentially an atmospheric and moody ambient track. The following cut, ‘The House’, sees a similar production tack, with the beats largely eschewed for a rich layer of pads and minor key chords. Here Kid A’s vocals cut through and lend a somewhat commercial edge to proceedings, but melody and textured soundscapes are immediately highlighted in the album’s opening salvo.
The 4/4 rhythms do arrive by the album’s third track, as a steady house chug is brought to life by Matthew Dear’s vocals and the percussion gives the track an added sense of motion and urgency. But this certainly isn’t dance floor fare.
Chatting to Joris about the album, he told us about his ambient influences as a youngster, “When I first started listening to electronic music, there was nothing that I liked more than sitting with my headphones on, closing my eyes and listening to these abstract soundscapes” before going on to name-check the likes of Autechre, Aphex Twin and Orbital. The ambient influences on 'Nobody Knows' are much less experimental and complex than Autechre or Aphex Twin, but Voorn’s early explorations of ambient probably have the biggest overriding stamp on the album, with melancholic melodies coursing throughout the LP. ‘Nobody Knows’ sounds like Voorn’s take on elements of ambient and sees him appropriating rich synth soundscapes to different styles – adding vocals and more dance friendly drums to create a body of work that is certainly more accessible to the masses than the niche sounds of artists like Autechre.
‘Sweet Piano’ and ‘MoMo’ see Voorn employing beat-less explorations, whereas tracks such as ‘Fall’ and ‘Left’ feature similar melodic elements, but also introduce propulsive 4/4 beats.
There are elements that nod more strongly to the dance floor – ‘Mugged’ and ‘Ringo’ are certainly not peak-time cuts, but they contain a certain edge and vitality in the percussion which lends itself to more club oriented environments.
What Voorn delivers is a body of work heavily focused on melodic and atmospheric sounds that doesn’t always succeed in being entirely cohesive, but is rich with melody. It’s a welcome attempt to steer clear of the tedium of an album full of dance floor bangers.
01. The Monk
02. A House feat. Kid A
03. Homeland feat. Matthew Dear
04. The Wild
05. Sweets For Piano
06. So Long feat. Kid A
12. Dust feat. Bram Stadhouders
'Nobody Knows' is out now via Green.