Chris Joss

No Play No Work

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Chris Joss seems to have spent a lot of time listening to the various strains of R&B played from the late '60s to the early ‘80s, and as a musician and producer, he comes up with his own versions on his albums, with No Play No Work being a typical example. Joss is much more interested in the instrumental tracks than in the vocals, and within the instrumental tracks, the beats in particular. Each selection here grows out of complicated drum pattern, and Joss keeps the drums high in the mix at all times. To the drums, he adds synthesizer parts, sometimes, as in "Toxic People," in the clavinet sound favored by Stevie Wonder in the early ‘70s. Other favorite instruments include electric guitars and what sounds like a Hammond organ (though, of course, it may be a synthesizer), such as on the title track. Only occasionally does Joss bother with vocals, and when he does he tends to bury them in the mix and only repeat a title ("You Make Me Happy," "He Got the Shakes") over and over. One exception to this is "Come on It's Time to Get Up," in which Joss re-creates the vocoder sound that bands such as Zapp employed. He also incorporates some slightly more unusual rhythms, bringing in an exotic worldbeat sound for "Spectators" and turning to more of a jazz-funk feel on "Radium Girls." The result is always danceable even if, to fans of the music Joss favors, it may seem somewhat formless; the tracks almost invariably fade out since, having established his rhythm patterns and played some solos, Joss has nothing to do but go on to his next beat.

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