On the surface, Jouissance is a perfect summer album, tailor-made for a drive to the beach, sunroof down, passengers using their hands as planes. The flow is exquisite, the beats divine, the samples so cleverly integrated that their origins are completely obscured. For just over half an hour, Joydah keeps listeners spellbound, adrift on pillows of loops and stuttered voices. The album possesses the feel of something complete, from its quiet launch to its subdued finale. Great care has obviously gone into the creation of this recording, every note and vocal snippet exactly where it needs to be, not a single jutting edge. Sequenced as a whole, the thirteen tracks offer a cornucopia of sounds and styles, highlighting different facets in turn: bass, percussion, voice. Hundreds of sources are listed, spanning decades, so many they boggle the mind. The set yields great replay value, as well as adaptability, sounding just as golden on a home stereo or headphones as it does on the road.
Before a single note is played, the artist and album names produce a pleasant impression. We’d all love to experience a little more joy. Jouissance implies ecstasy, a temporary yet transcendent joy that breaks the boundaries of ordinary happiness. And Jouissance is a joyful album, in love with sampled sound. But there’s a lot more to this album than meets the ear.
First, there’s the typographical mystery of the track titles (sample: “dəʊniː mɑːɹhɑː”). Then there’s the mystery of the artist, faceless by design. Then there are the quotes, which reference Berman, Cage and Beckett. Those who dig deeper will encounter a manifesto hidden in the (name your price) download, all about capitalism, commodity and culture. The most telling admission is that the artist was at one point so sick of popular music that he went on strike, refusing to hear it at all. But of course he came around. Or did he? When the essay enters the Collage section, the assumptions are again challenged. The manifesto may instead be a reassembled series of quotations ~ purposely paralleling the music.
With Jouissance, Joydah attempts to produce “the seeds of a new noise”. He also writes something that is so in line with the beliefs of our site that we quote it in full: I love the human voice for its own sake. In the trajectory toward vocal jouissance, language and meaning are gradually undone by the singing, whereby the words become harder to understand, leaving the phonic materiality of the vocal embellishments to be enjoyed for their own sake in excess of meaning. In short, he seems to agree with our preference for voice as texture, and concludes with a challenge: “In joy. Make some noise.”
Is the manifesto crucial to the enjoyment of the music? Not at all ~ but it does add depth. After lengthy criticism and contemplation, the artist concludes that it’s better to concentrate on jouissance where it is available than to bemoan the places where it is not. His decision to create a joyful, seemingly carefree album implies that the opposite was once a possibility. This jouissance was hard-won, and is all the more valuable because of it. (Richard Allen)