Electronica is a form of new music which, as art becomes more digital, is moving more and more into the mainstream. Musicians in particular are embracing this medium and its limitless potential in order to create a fusion of sounds which are not only new music, but can be manipulated and remixed into many different forms. Joshua Worden is one of the artists experimenting with the new music media available, fusing them with more traditional sounds, and helping to create completely new music genres. With his new album, Into Fog, which was released in mid-September, Worden is taking his roots in jazz guitar and his multi-faceted musical talent to another place with the flexibility of digital media.
Worden hails from Atlanta, Georgia, and credits the city with giving him his love of jazz, blues and soul. He majored in jazz guitar and Literature in college, and these first loves of his clearly provide the stable songwriting base from where he can take his imagination to the many and sundry places it dreams up with the help of electronic production.
Into Fog is an epic album with 12 songs, all of which Worden wrote, produced and recorded in his home studio in Atlanta. The album is reminiscent of old records which take the listener on a journey though sound, feelings and lyrics to tell a story. By way of this format, Worden’s Literature degree comes into play quite a bit on Into Fog, as he says this collection of songs is his most personal to date. His idea, Worden said, was to make each song like a picture or memory, frozen in time but also fading away as time passes.
Worden’s idea of the shift from moments into memories is reflected in the musical side of his songwriting as well. He uses synthesizers to create a feeling that the backing track is fading in and out in the title track of Into Fog. There is a little bit of his jazz and R&B background in Worden’s vocals in both this and the second track, Boundless, which is even dreamier. As the album moves into Right at Home and It Ain’t Bad, however, a more palpable R&B beat and feel emerges, and these middle songs are more reminiscent of his previous album, Always This. The single Midnight from Always This, for which Worden filmed his only music video to date, is reflective of his R&B tastes and sounds a bit like recent Justin Timberlake. The song also features his jazz guitar, but sees the beginnings of the more ambient style which comes out much more prominently on Into Fog.
Into Fog moves seamlessly back into ambient territory with the instrumental Warmth, possibly signifying the memories and stories from the first half of the album fading away. The rest of the album keeps that feeling with slightly less dulcet tones and thoughts. From the titles and lyrics of the songs, it appears that the story Worden is telling starts the listener off with the hopes and joys of youth, as Boundless and Right at Home seem optimistic and self-assured. After the palette cleanser of Warmth, the story takes a turn towards lyrics which seem to reflect a lesson such as in Hard Won and Wake, Child.
The album culminates with Dark Horizon, which puts a question mark at the end of the sentence of the album, expressing the confusion and sense of futility almost every person has experienced at some time in his or her life. It is an interesting way to end an album which seems chronological in its storytelling. Many autobiographical albums start the listener off with a trial or personal hell the artist may have been going through, but by the end some sense of hope is revealed. With Dark Horizon, Into Fog does just the opposite. If this album is autobiographical, as Worden has said, it appears that the most poignant and current feeling he wants to put across to his listeners is an idea of loss and the fear of the unknown.
Throughout Into Fog, Worden uses his pretty, ambient digital music and great storytelling ability to paint a picture for his audience. It is a snapshot of life, using sound and feeling to connote all the emotions and phases of the human condition. Using R&B, jazz, hip hop and a little dubstep, he treads lightly through some very personal subject matter to create a work which both challenges the listener and makes him or her feel soothed at the same time. It has been wonderful to see the evolution of Worden’s sound over such a short period into a very beautiful and honest place with Into Fog.
Review by Layla Klamt
Bandcamp.com (Joshua Worden)
Interview/bio, Joshua Worden provided by Independent Music Promotions