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Music Review: The Insane Warrior (RJD2) – We Are The Doorways

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Only a little more than a year after the release of The Colossus, RJD2 returns with not just a new album but a new moniker as well. We Are The Doorways is the debut album of RJD2’s alter ego The Insane Warrior. Inspired by horror and sci-fi scores of the 1970s, this instrumental album is filled with retro synths, flirtations with jazz and electronica, and more of the beats RJD2 is known for. While it’s not as hip-hop heavy as his other work, there is plenty here for fans (and non-fans) to enjoy.

“Thrust and Gain” opens the album and immediately sets the tone. The track is full of 1970’s-style synths paired with drums. It sounds like the epic conclusion of a sci-fi film. Things change up with the funky, electric organ-driven “The Water Wheel.” The drums here are great but in the middle of the track, there’s a breakdown where the organ takes center stage. By the end, the organ gets a spooky twist.

The intense “Within The Maze” goes into electronica territory and clearly has horror movie written all over it. It seems like the perfect backdrop for a chase scene. The amazing “Then You Hear Footsteps” combines hip-hop rhythms with the style of blaxploitation scores and tons of horns. It’s a standout track and it’s begging to be used in a movie.

“Black Nectar,” clocking in at around eight-and-a-half minutes, is really like two tracks in one. The first half has a funky, jazzy feel to it and features flute. The second half couldn’t be any different as synths take over and things take on a spacey, more ambient feel. The delicate music box sounds of “Saint Ignatius Belsse” follow and even they don’t stay so delicate for long.

Things end on a high note a few tracks later with album closer “Sunshine.” The same synth sounds that took us to outer space and made things creepy are instead used to express happiness and relief. There are bits of joy in the way the keys almost talk in the song. This track is a little bit more relaxed than others on the album and brings it to a fitting conclusion.

RJD2 has crafted a great album with his first outing as The Insane Warrior. He pushes himself into some areas he has never tackled before and does so with ease. You can hear how much fun he’s having doing this through the excellent production. No one knows yet if this is just a one-off project or something he will revisit in the future. Whatever the outcome, We Are The Doorways is immensely enjoyable. It really makes you wish some filmmaker would ask RJD2 to make a score to a real film one day.

Visit RJD2’s Bandcamp page for a free download of “Then You Hear Footsteps.”

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