Joris Feiertag is a Dutch producer and drummer from Utrecht in the Netherlands who makes music that is a finely balanced blend of organic and synthesised elements, often using ingenious syncopated rhythms combined with instruments such as the harp and kalimba.
Roots is his third album on revered German imprint Sonar Kollektiv. Having concentrated his attention on catchy hooks and a number of guest voices on his first, and deeper breakbeat workouts on his second, Joris felt it was time to deliver something that sat comfortably in a space somewhere between the two. The LP features not only a plethora of vocalists from across the globe, but also sees the producer playing with obscure samples and sounds, as he attempts to discover a new direction and find that sweet spot between dark and light; major and minor; new and old; uplifting electronica and blues.
The album format allows Feiertag to provide snapshots of not only his own personal life and experiences, but those of his musical collaborators. On Queen & King, Tru Thoughts recording artist Rhi spins a compelling tale of striving for independence and the understanding of self worth; on Feel Me, Nego True opens up about moving in with his partner and his ambitions to start a family; and taking it ot the next stage, on Law Of Attraction, Washington D.C. indie hip hop outfit OSHUN rap about the joys and challenges of parenthood.
Elsewhere, the sonic partnerships provide simply a fresh amalgamation of sound, such as on Keep Your Head Up, where Noah Slee’s soulful aesthetic blends with Feiertag’s brooding, minor key instrumentation, or Ballon Sogni where traditional African balafon, ethereal choirs and Fallon Nioke’s uncompromising vocal delivery create something almost otherworldly.
Being on a family orientated record label like Sonar Kollektiv also provides the opportunity to work with new label mates as well as old friends. Fellow Dutchmen and recording artists WAAN do just that on the gorgeous jazz meets electronics of Nostalgia, and southern UK soul boy Pete Josef delivers a warm, acoustic feel over the frenetic drums of Give A Little. And sometimes, there’s even the opportunity to sample a gorgeous vocal moment from the label’s back catalogue, as on Don’t Know Why (You Lost Your Soul) where Joris was permitted to use David Lemaitre’s stunning vocal from Jazzanova track Slow Rise – taken from their 2018 LP The Pool.
Elsewhere, alternative R&B artist and rising star Leonard Luka adds a more contemplative vocal to the sumptuous Waiting For Tomorrow; London based singer Oli Hannaford makes a enigmatic addition to the haunting Violet (You & Me); and another Dutch compatriot, Robin Kester, adds to the hazy and dreamy feel of Reverie with aplomb.
Sometimes words are not necessary to convey intimate moments though. Album cuts like Re:solution, with its emotive and poignant African choirs, pitched down guitars and hollow drums, transmit feelings about the prospect of personal loss, whilst at the same time delivering an uplifting, electric slice of modern dance floor facing music, very much in the vein of fellow luminaries Bicep, Four Tet or Floating Points. Other times, Feiertag is simply content to create a heavy hitter just for the sake of it, albeit something equally at home in the club or your kitchen. Come Back, with its insistent vocal samples, Korg piano stabs and a weighty bassline has a Caribou meets Jamie XX feel, yet it’s also something one can listen to in more relaxed surroundings. It’s a track that perfectly exemplifies the new direction of Feiertag’s sound – the joy of making dance music that satisfies “the search for simplicity”; that inhabits that space somewhere between major and minor; new and old; dark and light; pop and blues.
Once again, Joris creates new challenges for himself by finding that place where his music can flourish whilst working with artists outside of his immediate musical sphere. His seemingly endless search to shine a light on new and exciting talent, as well as his tireless work to discover the old and reinvent the new will surely see him break new ground and gain new followers for years to come.