Jlin – ‘Dark Energy’ 2LP [Planet Mu]

Footwork and grime. Fuck knows why, but this is where the head’s been for the last week or so, revisiting the pieces in the collection and turning out new bits as they come in. DJ Diamond’s Flight Muzik and Traxman’s first Da Mind Of Traxman are still the standard we hold the genre too, at least in regards to full length LPs. Both on Planet Mu, both released over three years ago and both almost worn out from the deck.

Despite the number of quality records that have come through since then it’s fair to say that it’s been a while between drinks to get us as excited as we were during that initial explosion where we first discovered the scene.

Enter Dark Energies, the debut full length from Jlin, completing a trinity of Planet Mu footwork releases that are essential for the collection. As the title suggests it’s coming from a dark place, a fact that the Indiana based producer is quite open about in her interviews and quotes surrounding the release. A bit like Foodman’s work in juke, it gives a nice spin on the genre’s formula of intense drums and movement, throwing up something new in the sounds she uses to construct her tracks.

This originality may come from the fact that Jlin doesn’t sample the instrumentation, which is a bit of a statement for the scene. Minus the vocal stabs everything is created from her studio setup, from the classical piano keys on the opening cut ‘Black Ballet’ to the underbelly synths echoing around ‘Ra’ and the stuttering ‘click-boom’ drum patterns that envelope the whole LP, it’s quite possibly this custom sound creation that makes this record stand out.

But don’t get it mixed up as being a novelty thing. 11 cuts in all, with a few being more experimental than others, it really is a cracking release, no matter how the tracks were made. Double LP mastered and pressed to the highest quality from the label, complete with download code for bumping around town.

via Planet Mu
As the popularity of Footwork has continued to soar, the range of sounds within the genre has expanded. From the angular, minimal beats of RP Boo to the widely admired sound of sadly departed DJ Rashad, the genre has lovingly seeped into hearts and feet worldwide whilst continuing to innovate. Until now most of the focus has been on the male DJ/Producers, but that is about to change. Gary based producer Jlin, who some of you might remember for her track “Erotic Heat” (Bangs and Works Vol.2 – Planet Mu 2011), or from her moment in the mainstream light providing music for fashion designer Rick Owens’ F/W 14 Paris runway show, is stepping further into the light with a stunning eleven track debut album “Dark Energy” showcasing her unique and bold new sound.

Gary, Indiana, a neighbouring City to Chicago, is one of those towns people overlook or perhaps expect the worst of. It’s famous for the Jackson 5 and its Steel Mills, one of which Jlin works long shifts at. She says her sound and “the themes behind my tracks are all based off what my creativity absorbs, whether it be bad or good”, and the music certainly shows that intent. It’s forceful, yet ripples with colour; it’s an intense, monolithic sound with rugged rhythms that stop and breathe and roll out in unusual staccato patterns. It’s a sound unlike any other out there, one that’s fiercely unique.

Her track titles are as evocative as the music is intense and hint at deeper themes – “Black Diamond”, “Guantanamo”, “Abnormal Restriction”. She notes “The titles I chose are based off failing and learning.” Album track ”Expand” also features a vocal from another important female artist – respected experimental West Coast producer Holly Herndon whom Jlin has been quietly collaborating with.

Her album “Dark Energy” is so called because of where it came from and how it came to be; the dark monolith on the cover also perfectly encapsulates it – “This album took my entire life to make. Every moment in my life lead up to this album. My musical sense of expression comes from sadness, and anger. I can’t create from a happy place. It seems pointless in my opinion. I don’t make the tracks as much as I feel them. Creating for me is about feeling and impact.”

Jlin has been supported by all the key players in the Footwork scene and says she is “thankful to many.” 2015 feels like the year people are ready for a new voice in Footwork and Jlin is a true original with a hard, yet infectious style and an album that showcases it brilliantly.