Hailing from the humorously named Gary, Indiana, Jlin evidently picks up on the vibrations of nearby Chicago. The chunky staccato rhythms of Dark Energy form an intense canvas for this footwork aficionado to sprinkle with peppered melancholia. Features guest vocals from Holly Herndon. Out on CD and vinyl double LP from Planet Mu.
8/10 Laurie Staff review, 18 March 2015
Footwork hasn’t quite reached the grim terraces of Burley yet so bear with me here. I guess it’s a new genre in which you….work your feet? Quality reviews and deductions courtesy of Norman Records. Whatever the hell it is.
Jlin is a US beatstress with a penchant for alluring rhythms, mostly devoid of sampling. What? No sampling? No respect. This is her point though, that you can inject so much more personality into a beat if you craft the majority of components yourself. As she states in a recent Fact interview, “do you know how many tracks I could make in a day if I just sat there, pulled up a sample and threw drums behind it?” so listen up, lazy grimeshits. This is how you make a beat in 2015.
As expected with a good dance record, the rhythms here are just ace. Jlin flirts with polyrhythms and strange 3-beat grooves using a fine peppering of drum machines - subby kicks, poppy toms and that omniscient 808 hat - and a collection of recorded finger snaps, sliced instruments and vocal samples. These are apparently the only sampled content and, probably by coincidence, the elements that annoy me the most about this. Never been a fan of that repeated stuttering vocal chopping, but I guess Jlin can’t be TOO groundbreaking, otherwise what is there left to stand on, eh??
Crap jokes aside, this is dance music without the relentless insistence that usually accompanies. The tracks almost beckon you to join them in their cinematic grace, with tracks 1 and 6 even sounding like low-light waltzes. Some obnoxious synth turns up for track 7 and has a conversation with a French couple. It’s back in track 9 to rub shoulders with some Brits. My next book will be titled ‘The amazing European adventures of Jlin’s synth’. Drugs enter on ‘So High’ and things become a bit surreal so I’ll wrap this up - footwork in the hands of Jlin is pretty great, and I wish her luck in taking on the world of sampling.
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- Dark Energy by Jlin
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