Electronic music has been blessed with more than its fair share of trailblazers and futurists over the course of its existence; visionaries who view the constricting artificiality of genre with contempt, and retroism as a disease in urgent need of eradication. Most (Sam Shackleton, Burial, Boards of Canada) are content to lurk in the shadows, hurling lightning bolts of innovation only when the stench of stagnation becomes too pungent to ignore. Others (Chino Amobi, Lotic, Amnesia Scanner) are more confrontational, spreading mixtapes of assorted avant-club/grime and zonked out, non-genre specific electronica like cholera via a multitude of web-based streaming platforms. Jlin, however, a steel mill worker from godforsaken Gary, Indiana is one of a critically endangered breed; an artist so fixated on the future, her every transmission sounds positively alien and hence irresistible to all but the most ardent of curiosity-deprived purists (I'll supply the anthrax spores if you'll sprinkle them on their Ready Brek). Her incredible 2015 debut album "Dark Energy" was jammed with arabesque reinterpretations of footwork so radical they seemed to defy the known laws of rhythm. Tracks like "Mansa Musa" and "Black Diamond" may have blazed with the same irrepressible energy of juke, but their abandonment of form and disdain for tradition was nothing short of pure dance Dadaism. The "Free Fall" EP which followed later the same year showed Jlin was no slouch in the brute force department either. "Eu4ria" and "Buzilla" both hit harder than a lump hammer to the solar plexus yet managed to retain the convention-defying experimentalism that made the preceding album such an extraordinary proposition. Expectations as to what Jlin had in store for us next increased to fever pitch with the announcement of new two-tracker "Dark Orchid". Opening cut "The Escape Of the Blvck Rxbbit (ft. Avril Stormy Unger), a rhythmic rollercoaster of bewildering complexity that saturates the stereo field with a plethora of processed vocals and piercing bleeps confirmed her zeal for pushing footwork into realms as yet unexplored remains as missionary as ever. "Nyakinyua Rise" on the flip, however, is wilder still; a fusillade of djembe drums is underpinned by stomach-knotting bass and a combination of strident war cries and ecstatic deplorations. It's an astonishing dispatch from the outermost limits of electronic music and a precursor to Jlin's upcoming sophomore album "Black Origami" that should set a thousand open minds ablaze with antcipation. You NEED this record.
This review is dedicated to Ian Woodrow, whose unfailing friendship and support have seen me through more kitchen sink dramas than I care to remember. Thank you doesn't say nearly enough. And if anyone asks, this is MY fucking lighter.
Favorite track: Nyakinyua Rise.