JOE ADHEMAR’S: ‘Existential Dreadlocks’ Release Date: 30/09/21
JOE ADHEMAR’S ‘Existential Dreadlocks’ is less of a magical mystery tour than a welcome sonic ram raid on everything you’d forgotten you loved, craved and needed in your life.
As Joe himself once remarked, comparing your own sound to that of others can often backfire but here there’s no denying traces as diverse as Supertramp, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Tom Petty, Doves, Blue Nile, Talk Talk, Pink Floyd, Pinegrove and Death Cab For Cutie mixed together with a nice vinaigrette of Existential Angst.
And while I’m at it, it would be churlish to neglect to mention an intriguing blend of King Crimson meeting U2 on a steamy evening in the city of Redondo Beach.
But despite those comparisons Joe somehow manages to produce a sound of his very own which from hereon in will forever be classified as the ‘thinking man’s indie.’
And then some.
A fulltime musician in the early 90’s with a hardworking, well-respected but ultimately unsigned band, Joe has been a studio song writer since 2003 recently turning the uncertainty of the pandemic to his advantage.
“Like so many during lock-down I’ve become far more serious about my solo projects, so much so that I’ve discovered it has destroyed any interest in my career to the point where I am now working on escaping my particular rat race to follow it seriously,” he said.
“I have played in bands in front of 2000 people, and I’ve played to five and a barman. I don’t need that particular type of adulation right now and not sure I ever will. My aim now is to be a Producer/Song Writer for others.
“Which brings us nicely round to a bug bear of mine, the use of the word ‘producer’. These days if you write a 4-bar loop with triplet hi hats in, whilst falling on a Fender Rhodes, it seems you’re allowed to call yourself one. Not in my book. I’m talking about a highly competent musician who knows their way around a mixing desk, who can offer suggestions melodically, harmonically and structurally and feed suggestions to both song writers and sound engineers to lift demos away from tightly clasped grips into their potential majesty.
“I’ve just had the honour of a producer credit from one artist and also there a few remixes out there, either published or about to be, so this plan to be a producer is taking its first, real few tiny steps.”
However, we digress.
With the release of the self-produced, mastered and mixed ‘Existential Dreadlocks’ Joe has reached, perhaps somewhat inadvertently, a significant crossroads. Producer or performer?
“How satisfied am I with the album? This album was about not acting on impulse. One of my strengths but also a major weakness is that I work fast. I can flesh out ideas quick. But the process of song writing is traditionally done with the help of others at some point. They would provide the moderation, whereas muggins here must see things from that first idea all the way to the faff of mixing and mastering. So, I can often let that permanent attachment ruin the potential.
“These last few months had my sister and my son in constant contact with the mantra, “DO NOT RELEASE IT!” because I’d have published in June if my compulsive side had won out.
“The result? There are only four songs from the June album choices left. So my satisfaction for this album is that I held back my faults, listened to my trusted loved ones and here we are, Ten songs and a bonus track waiting to be heard. No fillers. No padding. Hopefully all to various degrees good tracks on their own. As for the melodic satisfaction, the outro to ‘Green Beetles,’ the 4 part eBow finale of ‘Fires’ and the lyrics to ‘Dopamine Girl’ will probably make me smile for the reminder of my life when I hear them.
“So yes. I am satisfied. Very.”
But perhaps, just perhaps, he’s unaware exactly how good this album is. Fires, The Others, Silent Clicks and more deserve to be heard in a live environment, despite Joe’s apparent reluctance to return to the stage.
“At the moment the issue is I’m a bit rootless. I have a set of cracking musicians dotted around the southern Midlands who could all nail doing them live but like me, they have families, commitments to work. all that nonsense. But I’m hoping to move West in the next couple of years and once I’m bedded in I’ll fraternise all the open mics and hopefully find musicians good enough to perform them.”
With intelligent lyrics throughout, Supertramp-esque crescendos, tribal drumming, psychedelia-inspired numbers and proving there is something for everyone even an occasional visit to ‘pensive-central, Existential Dreadlocks is 2021’s album that quite magnificently refuses point blank to be pigeonholed.
“I am very aware that if I don’t gig, my songs are up against it. I would be incredibly joyful if I saw a group of youngsters gigging my songs though, so perhaps in the future I might get that opportunity. When complete strangers are moved by your art there’s not much to complain about is there? There’s a lot to be said for forging your own path and not placing too much emphasis on the affirmation, but the human condition makes such things a necessity most times.”
Refreshingly forthright and honest in today’s bland world of identikit, meaningless soundbites Joe is equally quick to deservedly praise as rightfully admonish some of his more established contemporaries.
“I would enjoy working with Guy Garvey, he’s the most poetic lyricist I know and his voice is so calming. From what I have learnt from his radio show and interviews he is also lucky enough to possess a personality that no human I know could resist spending time with.
“It is one of the real successes of British Rock/Indie to see such a charming man possess such a pivotal role in our culture. Kindness has run a bit dry these last few years but for him, being a nice guy still cuts through all this nonsense – although Morrisey and Ian Brown are working hard to create a counterculture to this benevolence, bless ‘em.”
Ahead of the release of ‘Existential Dreadlocks’ I recommend you listen to Joe’s ‘Best Of’ playlist: Spotify – Best of Joe Adhemar
You can, and will, thank me later.