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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Joystick The Landing (2022)

Good ambient beats, psychill that flirt with the concept of the 80's dystopian vision

1 The Landing 5:13

2 Two Stars 4:32

3 Metamorphosis 4:18

4 Into the Sun 4:29

5 Entanglement 3:54

6 Moon Landscape 3:39

7 Another Path 5:04

8 Carousel 4:20

(DDL 35:31) (V.F.)

(Ambient beats, Psychill, cinematic)

In the world of psytrance or psychill, an album like THE LANDING is considered as ambient music (sic!). Joystick is the latest find from Synphaera Music. And let me tell you right away; this is not an atmospheric album. It offers heavy rhythms, carried by powerful pulsating bass lines, which are not really driving to dance, to move. It is trance or psychill for neurons that are part of the panoply of electronic music (EM) styles that Nikola Vukovic has been dabbling with for about 20 years. The Serbian musician is indeed better known in his country under the aliases of Sarmati and Xpound, where he made a few downloadable albums of goa and progressive trance style in the mid 2010's. THE LANDING is a rather short album that flirts with a cinematographic universe inspired by science fiction, we can make some parallels here with the genre Blade Runner or The Matrix, in dystopian universes. Offered in 24 bits downloadable format only, this first album of Joystick on the Californian label proposes 8 tracks built on almost identical parameters with floating rhythm structures which are also interspersed with atmospheric landscapes before being reborn with a slightly renewed ardour.

Crystalline keyboard chords tinkle in the opening of the title-track, radiating a caramelized background sound of a cobalt blue. The fluctuation in the tinkling arpeggios creates a delicate ambient melody of which the resonance melts into a setting that lets a more sibylline synth wave float by. Elegiac, this opening is harpooned as soon as the first minute by a pulsing bass line that exhales dull rumblings in a rhythmic structure made for wandering pedestrians. The melody always shines a little more, even going it alone in an atmospheric passage around the 3rd minute. This short phase highlights these synth layers whose dystopian vision flirts with the genre of Vangelis in Blade Runner. Some drones come in at the same time as the pulsing bass line reappears with a slightly faster flow for a finale that retains all the cachet of The Landing's opening. So is the envelope of The Landing and so will be the other wrappings of the album's tracks, with a few nuances near. Two Stars proposes a good seraphic ode from a synth which also releases a zone of orchestral haze. A delicate intro that gets absorbed by the heavy rumbling chords of a vampiric bass layer. A sequence of harmonic rhythm waddles in the background, structuring a rhythm that dances with the ever lyrical offerings of the synth. This pulsating rhythm detaches a clearer shadow that dances symbiotically and gradually evaporates, leaving the synth ode floating in an atmospheric zone that cuts the track in half. A short passage before Two Stars becomes again to what it was. Metamorphosis is the first track that could be called atmospheric. And again, it's good to specify that it's a percussive atmospheric music with muffled beats well scattered over the 4 minutes of a track with Vangelis flavors on the synthesizer layers that float with a tint of gloom in the ambient harmonies. In a more dramatic vision, and with bursts of rhythmic gurgles slowed down in elastic restraints, Another Path is the second track that can be described as atmospheric in this album.

Into the Sun features a syncopated pulsating rhythm. Bass pulsations jump simultaneously with equally nervous and brighter arpeggios whose ascending velocity varies depending on which side the spheroidal rhythm leans. The harmonic portion is divided by sectors with arpeggios floating without a precise structure to hold on to. This gives more dimension to a music that also takes refuge in an atmospheric passage that re-energizes the rhythmic as well as harmonic approach with a fascinating chattering of arpeggios. Moon Landscape is in the same vein, with more echo effect in the percussive slams. It also offers a more melodic vision. Sinuous buzzing shadows pass from one ear to the other in the opening of Entanglement. Here too, the synth releases soft waves whose spectral side flirts with a form of ethereal poetry. The rhythm emerges shortly after the 45th second. Making its sequenced arpeggios jump sharply, it also proposes a form of alternation having a more melodic than rhythmic range. A shadow emerges to beat symbiotically up until the track enters its atmospheric zone to be reborn with a slightly more accentuated vigor. Carousel ends THE LANDING with a delicate bouncy choreography of keyboard chords that dance soberly before being hit by a swarm of chords that tinkle and twirl in a static swirl. A dramatic synth layer with the dimension of a giant cello lets its slow laments hover. The track then embraces a fascinating procession with a strong cinematic texture of a devastated planet vision.

True to the Californian label's style, Nikola Vukovic proposes an EM that flirts with the concept of the 80's dystopian vision. Creating his music from scenarios that he foments in his head; Joystick offers a short sample of his creativity and talent in the almost 36 minutes that THE LANDING lasts. On structures that are dangerously similar, he manages to maintain the interest of the listener by constantly adding, spicing up his structures with electronic ingredients and effects that arouse the curiosity of the ears.

Sylvain Lupari (September 28th, 2022) ***½**

Available at Exosphere Bandcamp

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Jun 13, 2023

I'd love to know what synth he used for the twisting elastic bass on the track "Another Path" - maybe I just described the synth known for that sound - possibly a Roland V-Synth? Fantastic album!


Sylvain Lupari
Sylvain Lupari
Oct 05, 2022

Click on Synphaera Music, the link in blue at the top of the review, and it will lead you to the album :-)


Oct 01, 2022

I did not found the album on bandcamp....

Nikola Vukovic
Nikola Vukovic
Oct 05, 2022
Replying to

It's published on Synphaera's Bandcamp page.

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