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BOTW Album Review: Joe and Will Ask – Vikings

Their Soundcloud page says simply ‘Joe and Will Ask are based in London and make dance music.’ It’s a prosaic (and tongue in cheek) assessment of their skill – this record proves they do so much more than that.

Vikings – the record’s name is taken from their infamous club night – is a debut record 5 years in the making. Since first collaborating in 2007 the duo has released songs on celebrated labels including Kitsuné, Deadly and Gulp.

In those five years they’ve become known for an amalgamation of electro, trance, house and techno. This album takes all those elements and refines and heightens them. It’s packed to bursting with pulsating jams which are built up to be broken down again.

With Vikings they’ve honed their style to create an album that ebbs and flows like the best club night they could put on. The opening gentle parping and echoing vocals of first track ‘Freya’ and the twinkling ‘Goat Race’ help set the scene, though it’s rather sedate compared to what is to come.

It’s when only when ‘Last Forever’, with its breakdowns and propulsive rhythms, kicks in that things really get going.  It’s followed by ‘This Song’ which may have the strangest line to a song you’ll ever dance to.  Have you ever imagined yourself throwing your hands in the air to an off kilter synth line and the line “I want this song played at my funeral”? No? Well, you may do now.

‘Santander’ is the banker, the centerpiece of the album where discordant catchy synths and crunching beats meet, building up and swooping down again, like a techno bird of prey. It’s the dark, woozy sound of night and it’s hypnotic. ‘My Skin’ is a cocktail of sultriness and weirdness in equal measures (“my skin is thick as sin”) while ‘Put It Down’ with its repeated refrain of “shoot like a tommy gun” is another highlight.

As the night (or record, whatever) approaches its end we get ‘Baywatch’, which is as fun and bouncing as its title suggests with its swirling piano and pulsating beats clanging and insistent. The fragmented and doom laden ‘In The Rain’ is its antithesis.

The swirling waltzers of ‘Before Spring’ set us up for the euphoric closer hands in the air of Spring where the joyful stabs of sunshine give way to great big chunks of synth.

This is a throbbing and effervescent thrill. It’s a record that captures the energy of their live show and shows them perfecting their signature sound. Those club nights might be getting even more crowded.

-Danny Wright

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