With a great group of friends comes a great distribution of responsibilities. One of the most important aspects of the music industry is its interwoven communities, and it’s immediately apparent that Justin Jay utilizes this facet dutifully and thoughtfully. Getting his start on Claude Von Stroke’s Dirtybird imprint, Justin Jay and his group of friends quickly grew big enough to start their own venture. Justin Jay & Friends have launched a label of their own, which shares its name with their debut album, Fantastic Voyage.
In an interview with Dancing Astronaut, Jay explained that just about every aspect of their album was a team effort. The production and instrumentation side saw the “Friends” portion of the group (Josh Taylor and Benny Bridges) contribute throughout the process, with additional help from Sacha Robotti and Ulf Blonde. The process through which the album was released was as much of a team effort as its conception. Fantastic Voyage was put out in a series of distinct segments – four main parts with an additional fifth “special treat” at the end – released by a total of five different labels.
True to its title, the album ranges far and wide across the musical spectrum, succeeding in taking listeners on an excursion through Justin Jay and all of his friends’ collective and individual creative mindsets. The rhythms of the album’s tracks stay mostly in the realm of house, but the amount of variety inside of these rough boundaries is truly impressive.
A heavy, tribal sound complemented with certain rock influences as can be heard in such tracks as “Karma,” “Can’t Complain,” and “Make You Mine,” while indie-style tracks like “What Do You Want,” “Turn Around,” and “Climbing Trees” explore more easygoing sensibilities. As the album further addresses funkier, more melodic perspectives heard in “Weatherman,” “Let Go,” and “Broke The Law,” the album covers a lot of ground stylistically.
Though many producers and musicians attempt similar amounts of variety as Jay and his cadre, the refined sound and production quality brought to each and every track on Fantastic Voyage shows that the combined creative faculties of the collective stand apart from the crowd. Alongside the rock and funk influences made prominent by guitarist Benny Bridges, and the indie influences brought in by the vocalist Josh Taylor, the album also sails the seas of tech house and techno at times. Tracks like “I See You,” “Indecision,” and “Karma (JJ’s Late Nite Dub)” show this side of the group’s creativity, likely due in part to contributions from Ulf Blonde.
The album can be streamed below, either as an hour-long continuous mix or as 12 individual tracks. Justin Jay has also embarked on the next stage of his adventure, the Fantastic Voyage Tour. Tickets are available here.