The Insane Warrior - We Are the Doorways
Record Label: RJ's Electrical Connections
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Ramble John Krohn, probably best known as DJ and hip-hop producer RJD2, once occupied an incredibly precious position in the music scene. While a lot of producers were making their way from the studios and turntables to center stage and microphones, RJD2 seemed content with his place in creating music. He had the uncanny ability to stop you in your tracks using nothing but his intricate knowledge of music theory and the eclectic way in which he put it all together. His last two releases however saw a bit of experimentation on his part, to varying degrees of success. On The Third Hand, RJD2 strayed from his hip-hop background into the world of rock, providing vocals and playing live instruments on almost every track. His next solo release, The Colossus, returned to the sound fans were used to, but still featured a slight change in his philosophy when it came to sampling and vocals.
While people may have seen these moves as a sort of selling out on RJD2's part, he made it abundantly clear through his blog that what he was doing was the complete opposite. Experimentation and evolution have always been a part of his career, and he took a huge chance adding his own vocals to the mix when his main draw has always been the music. RJD2 has always had high expectations for himself when creating music under that moniker, so in order to relieve a bit of that stress he took the guise of The Insane Warrior, using it as a different sort of outlet for his own creative processes.
We Are the Doorways started with an obsession, namely an obsession with the horror and science fiction movies of the late 70s, early 80s variety. As RJD2 sifted through the countless number of these films made available to him by the internet, he began to take note of similarities in the way these movies were scored. This transferred to his work as The Insane Warrior, and Doorways ended up as a sort of homage to the techniques and emotions used in those old movie soundtracks.
The album begins with the moody “Thrust and Gain,” a slow and almost torturous build up of a track that eventually explodes into a cymbal-heavy drumline. As an opener it's a perfect foreshadowing of what's to come next, heavy on emotion despite its length. Transitioning to the next track, “The Water Wheel” begins as a light, calliope driven track with a nice bouncy rhythm. The calliope in particular is rather interesting, as it's style usually treads the line between joyful and terrifying without ever straying too far into either spectrum. It's great at lending an uneasy air to whatever piece of music it's a part of, and it's appearance on this track is no different. RJD2 showcases this odd trait wonderfully, as the same distinct harmony is used over the top of a few varied sonic landscapes that also range from happy to upsetting with nerve-wracking twists and turns.
With Doorways, RJD2 uses emotion, odd instrumentation, and unconventional techniques to almost create stories within each track. In “Within the Maze,” I could almost sense the dread one would feel as they were lost in some humongous labyrinth, being chased down by an other-worldly horror of heavy bass lines and rising keyboard harmonies. Although it's only the third track, it always seems to pop up when I least expect it. The rich horn section in “Then You Hear Footsteps” evokes images of late nights spent alone in an empty house, where each and every sound is somehow foreign in the dark stillness. And while they're a bit overbearing, the fading chords at the end provide a brief repose until the next track hits.
The rest of Doorways is a flurry of beautifully produced hits. “Black Nectar,” by far the longest track on the album at almost double the length of any other, begins with a funky beat and an even funkier attitude. It slowly builds and builds, adding an amazing flute solo and more complex drum beats before abruptly falling apart. The last half is an overwhelming ambient trip that's unlike anything else heard on this album. “Saint Ignatius Belsse” uses xylophone, rain sticks, and bells to create its very own music box effect, an effect that's very soothing after the heaviness of the rest of the album.
We Are the Doorways is, above all else, a trip and a half. RJD2 has created an almost ambient jam session full of emotional twists and turns that tops most of the music I've heard this year. The odd blend of over-the-top corniness and sheer terror of that bygone era in film melds beautifully with RJD2's signature production stylings to create an instrumental album that almost chases you down with its voracious use of atmosphere. Doorways made my heart jump into my throat on more than one occasion, and I can't wait to see what other masterpieces come from RJD2's Insane Warrior project.
Great album, didn't expect it to be soo good. I've dabbled in RJD2 before but never really gotten into his albums except maybe one or two songs but this whole album is great. The Water Wheel is awesome.