Joy Electric - The Ministry of Archers (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Joy Electric

The Ministry of Archers (2005)

Tooth & Nail

There's only so many blips, bleeps and loops that one can take before going insane. Luckily, I'm very much open to giving absolutely everything a chance, and no matter the genre, trying to find some beauty in the art. This is obviously a lot harder with some acts than others, and Tooth & Nail's Joy Electric was no doubt one of the harder ones.

I've never held any particular affinity for house, trance, or techno, and that's largely what The Ministry Of Archers is based on, though they still follow the path of such trailblazers as Brian Eno and the Chemical Brothers in terms of integrating some true elements of pop music into those bleeps and blips, to add variety and keep the sound from growing stale. An ambitious undertaking, there's no doubt about it, but I don't know how I feel about saying that they truly succeeded. A good deal of this album is repetition, and for a good amount of you, it's going to be too much to even attempt to take in.

The dark, industrial feel of the album makes way for some extremely vivid imagery, and I'd consider that a success on their part. The combination of loops, and dark, monotone vocals in "Rickety Trickery" evoke images of a dark, dungeon-like warehouse, and some robotic elements as well. The rigid form of every song doesn't lend itself well to any sort of replay value, but it does make you concentrate while you actually are listening. There's only so much that can be done with blips and bleeps, but Joy Electric do what they can to make their cold, mechanical structures seem all the more appealing. None of the songs are long enough to truly get on your nerves, but they're long enough to develop in the necessary manner. The problem, and it's an obvious one, is that nothing is going to stick out individually. To get the full effect, it's an album that really has to be listened to all at once, allowing it to engross your senses in the search for the subtle nuances that exist within the ice cold confines. Many times, you'll be listening for what seems like ages, to the same repeated sounds, and nothing will happen. The sound of water trickling, or eerie things you'd hear on a "Twilight Zone" rerun, nothing more. These analog synthesizers are only as limiting as the person manipulating them.

There's a very small niche market for this sort of thing, but if that's the niche market that you reside in, Joy Electric's latest effort is surely worthy of your consideration. For the rest of you less ambitious folk, there just may be something hiding for you in that cold, dark, industrial mill.