We’ve already seen a lot of sides of the artist known as RJD2. We’ve seen him produce hip hop records with old soul records, take apart and reconstruct rock records, write songs on guitar, and write electronic dance records. He’s collaborated with numerous artists. For all we’ve seen though, RJ shows us that he’s not done exploring his musical influences and trying new ideas. For his latest project he tries something new - an alter ego. The Insane Warrior is a project RJ concocted to explore his love of horror and sci-fi movie soundtracks from the golden age he describes as 1975-1984. Actually recorded before The Colossus, he decided that abandoning the RJD2 moniker would allow him to tackle a project that was done 100% for fun. While in some cases a project like this could be really self indulgent and hard to listen to, We Are The Doorways is interesting, fun, and accessible.

For those of you already versed in the material that inspired this project, it should come as no surprise the time period listed above would also have John Carpenter (who scored the majority of his movies himself) and Brian Eno listed as two of the biggest influences on this album. For those of you not as familiar with this area, this boils down to a lot of simple themes being built and explored through layers and variations on vintage keyboards that create tension. While he’s played multiple instruments on previous albums, We Are The Doorways is really where we get to know RJD2 the keyboard player, and frankly, he’s quite good. Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes, and Moog abound on the album, which as it happens, produce some of my favorite sounds in music. That’s just how I roll. If you’re averse anything slightly “prog,” this might not be for you, but personally I don’t feel like this album crosses over into the excessive and endless noodling that turn me off from Rick Wakeman projects. There are moments like the introduction that require a little bit of patience so that atmosphere can be establish and layers and themes build, but you can rest assures that you’re going to get a payoff. If anything, We Are The Doorways just once again reestablishes that RJD2 knows how to make an instrumental record work. He manages to keep everything in motion, with terrific sense of when to build things up, when to break them down, and when to invert everything.

There is a certain amount of suspense and eeriness to the album, in keeping with the theme, but it’s balanced with horn samples and funky drums just enough to give a little warmth to the record. It’s this balance that I feel makes this project so palatable. With another artist at the helm, a project like this could have easily turned away a significant portion of their fan base. With The Insane Warrior, we are presented with an updated vision of an older time period in music that should appeal to a wide range of listeners.