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Reviews for Vizual Records
VIZLP1 Joshua Iz – It Iz What It Iz LP

Although he’s spent a lot of time in California over the years, it is Chicago that rings through Joshua Michaels’ music most clearly. Born in the home of house music but raised in San Jose, Iz (as he later become known) forged solid friendships with key Chicago luminaries at a young age; indeed, his very first release was on the essential Prescription imprint, with more closely following on Guidance and Classic. Nearly fifteen years and several dozen EPs since his first release he has finally committed his musical vision to long form on his own Vizual label with the result showing just why he has remained in demand for so long. Though history has shown Iz to be more than comfortable with the medium of 12″ and EP releases he tackles the album format with ease; because for what is essentially a collection of dance floor tracks, It Iz What It Iz flows with all the peaks and valleys of an artist album. —Per Bojsen-Moller, Little White Earbuds | Read the full review…

Inexplicably, this is the first album from Chicago based Joshua aka Iz, who has been a major force in electronic music for a number of years. As a DJ, he has racked up 24 years behind the decks and as a producer he has created a huge number of tunes, both solo and alongside sometime partner Diz. This album features some really groovy downtempo material alongside the more uptempo grooves that Josh is specifically known for creating. It’s hard not to get caught up in grooves like the slow stepping Bells, vengeful Sea of Vapours and fuzzy tech soundscape of Tone D. It Iz What It Iz grooves in an appealing manner from start to finish. —Jon Freer, Freersounds

The first album by Joshua Iz comes out today on Vizual Records. Though a longtime fixture of California’s club scene, Iz’s roots are in mid-’90s Chicago. He first debuted in 1995 (as Joshua) on The Foot Therapy EP, a record he co-produced with Ron Trent, Abacus and Chez Damier. His new album is called It Iz What It Iz, and shows him teaming up with Damier once again for the track “Sentimental Love.” Other guest appearances come from New York MC Jamalski and another one of Iz’s old Chicago buddies: Dwayne Washington, AKA Diz. It comes a few months after two related compilations: It Iz What It Was and It Iz What It Iz (The Remixes). Aside from the title track and the 2009 A-side “Deep Space Pressure,” all of the songs are previously unreleased. –From Resident Advisor | Read the full article…

VIZ002 Joshua Iz – Flower Sparks

There is a long tradition in aesthetics presupposing that art should aspire to resemble nature. Art’s artifice, all the craft and design, should disappear from view, leaving behind only a surface on which elements seem to move with natural necessity. The enjoyment of art stems in part from experiencing something that seems almost like nature, while all along still knowing somehow that it’s artificial, shaped by the hands of man. The chance of enjoying the four tracks offered up by Joshua Iz for his second release on his own Vizual Records thus seems summed up by the title. “Flower Sparks” reflects how these numbers seem to unfold organically, yet also use a distinctly synthetic sound palette that reminds you of the electrical energy whirring through machines that makes it possible. What’s more, I wouldn’t be surprised if “Flower Sparks” was the name of the VST plug-in Joshua used to generate the synth lines that take center stage throughout — buzzing with electric warmth, they wind through twisting melodies in fluid undulation.

This synth style is in full effect on “Rydim Culture” lending the track a breezy, effervescent air, snaking over a series of brisk, bright synth stabs. Like its three kin, “Rydim Culture” has a glitzy, uptempo house vibe well-suited for Friday night at a high-rise bar in midtown, white leather sofas, high heels, and an expansive terrace view of city lights glowing through the rain. It’s futurist-escapist, soundtracking a pleasure-centric throwdown hidden far away from the stress, anxieties and lurking paranoias of the urban jungle. The EP’s titular opener derives its enthralling, bouncy momentum from the gloriously wild throbs of an acid-y synth riff. Even though all the filters and distortions on the synth have a distinctly digital sheen to them, their rich tonal variety would support the idea that digital is at times just as capable of sounding alive as analog is.

While Joshua’s tunes are in the pocket, the result of more than ten years in the house music game, a number of vocal sentiments here appear a bit tacked on. “Rydim Culture” includes a rasta shouting the title over a house groove that has ostensibly little to do with “rydim,” while “Alpha & Omega” touts a diva asserting “I am the alpha of kinky hair… and the omega of your dreams… gaze upon me.” Such new age mythologizing seems more appropriate for some psychedelic disco than chic house. That’s to say, while Joshua’s production style tastes like champagne, his vocal samples smell like weed. Not a contradiction, perhaps; what’s deep house after all but regular house just more stoned? — William Rauscher, Little White Earbuds

VIZ001 Joshua Iz Vizual Rydims #1

After years spent making amazing music for other people, Joshua has finally decided to launch his own Vizual imprint. The super producer and student of architecture starts with a brilliant dubbed up house EP where all four tracks are winners. Brainhouse kicks things off with hearty synths and a revolving bassline, whilst Jackhouse employs biting keys and cool grooves. Blaztholes is a crazy keyed winner and Dubberdub lets the bass call the shots. —Jon Freer, Hearing Is Believing