The Land of Misfits EP (BEC Recordings)
By: Joshua Porter
Ronnie Martin's Joy Electric, which he now shares with additional synth player Jeff Cloud, created a completely new, totally different breed of synth-pop. The music is derived completely from scratch on the synthesizer with the exception of his first two releases Melody and Five Stars for Failure. The early releases used drum machines and samplers in addition to the ever present bleeps and blips of the synthesizer to construct his video-game like sound.
Martin was originally part of the now deceased ("and buried", in his words) Dance House Children with his brother Jason Martin. They had three releases before calling it quits, including the widely mistaken Rainbow Rider which many believed to be a name change for Dance House. Jason now leads Starflyer59 and Ronnie went on to start Joy Electric, which has received a much larger reaction. Ronnie believes JE to be far superior to Dance House Children which he basically calls a "flop".
Joy Electric released its debut Melody in 94. Not long after, the remix EP Five Stars for Failure was released. The music has always been like a perfectly constructed pop song, only the traditional instruments and noises are replaced with layer on top of layer of melodic beeps and little computer type noises that construct the most pure breed of synthetic music possible. The second full length album We are the Music Makers released in 1996, was themed by medieval castle type lyrics and song structures. This was his first abandonment of drum machines and samplers. The loops were replaced by the electro-throb of moog percussion and notes were deconstructed to sound like drum- like crunches. The Old Wives Tales EP was the 8th song follow up to We are the Music Makers, featuring 5 new tracks including "The Cobbler" and one of Ronnie's favorites,"And it feels like old times". It also included remixes of We are the Music Makers' "Burgundy Years", with a new dance type sound, and "I Beam you Beam" with a new pounding electro-beat. Another highlight of the EP was the new version of "CandyCane Carriage" which originally appeared on Melody and was newly dubbed "Lost in the Forest" and stripped of all but a sweet music box like synthesizer riff.
Robot Rock was the next album to be released and by far the best seller. The songs were more simple and the album became a favorite among JE fans with tracks like "Sugar Rush" and the now hit single "Monosynth". This was the first album to include Jeff Cloud who had previously been only the live synth player for JE.
The new release The Land of Misfits EP features the "Monosynth" album version, three remixes and a completley new song. "The Cobbler" remix is not one of the better ones, considering its new speed and vocal style. Not that its not a fun track, its just not one of Ronnie's better remixes. The "I'm Your Boy" and "Sugar Rush" drum n' bass remixes have added super fast techno beats, with ambient background whispers and wavy music box notes. Those two are great, only the "Sugar Rush" remix lacks the fun synth hooks that made the original so popular. The new song, "The North Sea", is a haunting ballad with sweet synthetics and melodic notes that swell and fade along with Ronnie's classic sad vocals. It's a great addition and makes paying 8 bucks for 5 songs worth it. It's a small, but great addition to the Joy Electric discography and I recommend it completly.
Ronnie plans on having the next full length JE album out this fall, followed by a solo project in which he will escape to traditional instruments for a while.
When you're listening to Joy Electric you seem to forget how different it is, because you become lost in the catchiness of it all. After all, Ronnie Martin always said all he wanted to do was make the perfect pop song. While he was at it, he created a timeless, completely original breed of music that (as he hoped), cannot be described.