Joe Turner sits amongst the peak of UK dance music - and his new EP proves it
After sharing an enchanting debut EP last year, the South London producer sets his sights on a bright and hopeful future ahead.
In the depths of England's lockdowns last year, South London producer Joe Turner was someone attempting to manifest his way to a brighter, strobe-lit future. "It just builds up that excitement in a part of me; an excitement to not even just share this music in this setting, but to just experience it with people once again," he told us, as he celebrated the release of his debut EP Textures. "People are still passionate, and I feel like everyone’s really excited to get back out there and experience the club again."
You couldn't blame him for being so misty-eyed about a potential return to club culture either, considering that said debut EP is indebted to it and the community-built euphoria that thrives amongst dancefloors - something he's come to love and experience for himself, as he resides amongst the brunt of it in London's south. "It all connects to that London atmosphere - or even just the club atmosphere full-stop, with it being a worldwide thing," he explains; the EP's connection to that atmosphere shown in its sonics and production, right down to the visuals that move alongside it.
In the time since Turner released his Textures EP, London nightlife has continued to remain shut. The UK's 'opening' was been pushed back with renewed outbreaks and variants, leaving nightlife in a constant state of uncertainty as experienced similarly in Australia. Soon, more Joe Turner music began to emerge - take the house-pop-leaning Noir a couple of months ago - and his connection to club production deepened; that intense longing for a return to the hazy euphoria of dance music being something feeling so seemingly out of reach.
Now, we beckon in the arrival of Joe Turner's second EP Reflections, and in addition to it being a solidification of the musician's craft, its timely arrival with the eventual return of dancefloors in the UK has the musician on the cusp of soundtracking a special moment.
Reflections is an EP that attempts to make sense at Joe Turner's last 12 months, reflecting upon the rollercoastering journey that - alike many others - has been a whiplash-worthy head-spin in the last year. It's a common thread that links the EP to each of its collaborators - BEKA and Tom Dunne - and links the many stylistic choices that sit within its production; Reflections - as the title suggests - grouping together a collection of people displaced from the last year in an attempt to make sense of it all.
It's a theme central to the EP-closing Noir, which as we mentioned with its initial release three months back, explores the contrast of darkness and hope at a time of need in a way brought to life through electronic main-stay Tom Dunne. "It’s about going through a tough time - and being strong enough to survive the darkest days," Turner said with its release - a statement that would echo the feelings of many others at the moment. Shade - a twisting affair featuring HONNE collaborator BEKA - attempts to make further sense of it all: "I wanted to capture that feeling that a little spark of hope and colour gives, when it pierces through the situation you're in and gives you the space to inhale and feel lighter, much like sun after days of grey," the one-to-watch says on her vocals.
As you'd expect from Reflections' two vocal-including tracks, Noir and Shade are perhaps the moments in which the EP's inwards-looking analysis feels most pronounced. Yet, it's something you'll find even amongst Reflections' most synthetic-sounding moments, where Joe Turner's production prowess allows dancing synth and garage-inspired production to tell the stories and convey the feelings encapsulated within the EP's spirit.
"Reflections is a third person view of the trials and tribulations we face in this life. I feel like everyone has been through a lot over the last year but despite all the negatives that we've all endured, there have also been positives," he summarises the EP. "For me personally, I've aligned my hopes and goals, my motivations and discovered the things that mean the most to me. Each track on Reflections is a nod to these situations/emotions we go through and I hope anyone who listens to the EP is able to connect with these feelings in their own way."
Arriving on the doorstep of London's re-opening, there's a glimpse of hope that dances amongst Reflections' sound. Even though its predecessor Textures was indebted to club culture, Reflections has an invigorated energy that feels like Turner clawing his way towards that end date. Shade, for example, captures the light at the end of the tunnel and the countless metaphors that relate to it; its creaking presence feeling like footsteps to a tight-packed future where bodies can sway together once again, conjoined by the appreciation for driving rhythms not too afar from Turner's own.
The euphoric Too Much and the driving Wings capture that urgency for re-opening similarly, focusing on the depths of house music's complexities and the history that undermines its cathartic feeling. In a way, Reflections feels like the perfect soundtrack to the return of that feeling, layered with the open-eyed excitement to brighter times now occurring and the drilling rhythms that soon, could be played out to people who - like Turner himself - have gone way too long without the satisfaction that only dance music can bring.
Over the last year, we've watched on as Joe Turner introduces himself as a steward of dance music; someone indebted and devoted to its sounds and atmosphere. There's only so much of that communicable in a time where dance music has been silenced to one-person-parties and at-home listening alone, but now, as things re-open and Joe Turner's music begins to rattle through speakers late at night, we're about to see him reach a newfound level - and it's something we're incredibly excited to watch unfold.
Take a dive into Reflections below, and hopefully, it won't be too long before Turner's intricate productions are playing out across Australia too.