Jlin: “Black Origami” Album Review

Written By: Ethan Griggs

My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com

When DJ Rashad tragically died in April of 2014, having just released his incredible debut album Double Cup six months earlier, it was unclear who would carry on his legacy as one of the main torchbearers of Chicago’s newfound footwork movement. The Teklife founder’s death left a gaping hole in a brand new movement that was left for his frequent collaborator, DJ Spinn, to close. It wouldn’t be long, though, before a new visionary would place herself in the spotlight. With the release of Dark Matter in 2015 Indiana producer Jerrilynn Patton, professionally know as Jlin, took the genre up a whole notch with her colorful production and dizzying drum machines, and now with her new album Black Origami she has created music that literally shape-shifts right before your very ears.

The footwork essentials are still there; syncopated bass drums and chopped up vocal samples dominate the mix, but the whole sound is decidedly more exotic and tribal. Bongos roll around the stereo image like boulders while Jlin utilizes the entire frequently spectrum with ear-splitting tambourines and sparkling cymbals all the way down to battering bass tones. Paired with the album’m stark cover art, the listener truly gets the sense that they are lost in the jungle.

While the first three tracks are representative of these qualities, the standout fourth track “Holy Child” may be the closest thing to Rashad that Jlin has ever made. That by no means says that Chicago footwork dancers will be able to keep up with the rhythm, though – for what made Rashad’s music catchy and club-worthy is directly traded in for a more mythical sounding overtone. Rather than someone saying “pass that shit” or “I’m so high in the sky”, we get melismatic vocals that sound like they were lifted straight from famous opera performances.

What makes Jlin’s work so unique is the way she’s able to cram other modern styles of electronic into her sound. The album shares many qualities with Daniel Lopatin’s most recent work as Oneohtrix Point Never, and it’s also reminiscent of some of Richard D. James’s work as Aphex Twin – but what ground Patton is able to cover on Black Origami is something that is truly singular to the world of electronic dance music. With tracks like the schizophrenic “Carbon 7 (161) and the blaring haze and automated-phone-voice sampling of “1%”, it’s absolutely going to be one of the most thrillingly spine-tingling and exotically eerie records you’ll hear this year.