By Liam Toner (@tonerliam)
In Tongues is the debut EP of Japanese-Australian producer and musician Joji. Joji has been crafting his style over the past few years, putting up beats of his own, having Chloe Burbank (a sort of demo EP) leaked by his fans and later releasing it himself. He would also create two albums of edgy, comedic, meme rap under his Pink Guy character from his hugely successful but also controversial Filthy Frank Youtube channel. As Joji has been making music for years (but not releasing anything to the wider public), on In Tongues he’s already seemed to settle into his own distinguishable sound that doesn’t rely too much on its influences.
Joji’s musical style is very laid back and smooth RnB, Lo-fi Hip-Hop and Trap with a lot of jazzy piano loops that brings Nujabes to mind. The production quality of In Tongues is a strong point as it successfully balances all the different samples and instruments and wraps them in the perfect amount of reverb to give the EP a very warm and cosy sound without making it sound washed out and buried in echo and atmospherics. The trap drumlines don’t overpower the sound, unlike in a lot of trap music, and the hi-hats sound tickled rather than rattling. The deep sub bass kicks don’t pound your senses but slot in to the mix pleasantly, giving the tracks a notable amount of heft. Joji’s vocals are soft and lazily delivered almost acting as another instrument rather than standing out in front of the instrumentals, thus adding to the very chilled vibe of the EP.
The first track and the single released from the EP Will He starts things off with a soft lo-fi piano sample and some scratching sounds in the background–adding to lo-fi feel of the track–before the trap beat comes in and Joji sings emotionally about heartbreak and if the person he was with still remembers what it was like with him before they moved on to another guy. As well as the main vocal, Joji adds several layers of harmonising vocals on top to create a very lush warmth to track.
This formulaic way Joji builds and structures his tracks stays consistent throughout the EP, with jazzy pianos being swapped out for soft guitar loops on Pills and Bitter Fuck. Samples of scratching and tapping and other everyday sounds are used throughout the run time of the EP again adding a layer of warmth to give the tracks a stronger feeling of depth. The last track Worldstar Money, named as an interlude despite being the final track on the EP, is essentially Joji singing a ballad over a ukulele with a little bit of hip-hop drums for good measure. Although after hearing the first few strums of ukulele, one expects to hear Joji either telling people to shut the fuck up or singing about weeaboos or other inane subject matter. Instead, fortunately, we are treated to a more introspective lyrical approach that rounds off the EP nicely.
In Tongues is a great start for Joji, highlighting the type of sound he can call his own and will continue to develop as he inevitably comes to release more music in the future. The music here is pleasant and moody and is a perfect soundtrack to looking out the window in an urban cityscape at night, forgetting your troubles and just relaxing. While the tracks on here could probably be a bit more memorable, this is a good start for Joji and highlights his growing potential as an artist.