Music Reviews

May 22 2017
Artist: Jlin
Title: Black Origami
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Planet Mu Records
“Black Origami” is a heavily Eastern-influenced, heavily percussive album full of short pieces that are predominantly glitchy electronica, but also part tribal breakbeat, part instrumental pop. The rhythm-first approach inspires dancing, but the complexity and constant shifting is generally DJ-unfriendly. The heavily quantized feel to parts of it seem reminiscent of 90’s tracker tunes, with the drum programming a complex mathematical exercise, as though trying to recreate a large percussion ensemble using a computer and pushing the synchronisation and rapid-fire retriggering faster than humans really could go.

“Nyakinua Rise” and “Hatshepsut” are brilliant exercises in measured aggression which you can visualise a martial arts display being set to. The sheer directness of pieces like “Enigma” really demands your attention, with cut-up vocal snippets that sound Bollywood-like as far as it’s possible to tell. Every track bounds with energy, so even sonically milder pieces like “Kyanite” still have some frantic layers- even collaborating with William Basinski on “Holy Child” doesn’t temper it.

Other guest appearances include the brilliant Holly Herndon, whose influence on “1%” brings sinister vocal samples (“you’re all going to die down here”), distortion and a cross-tempo techno flavour which works well. “1%” and the following track “Never Created, Never Destroyed”, a slightly more regular-tempo rap number featuring Dope Saint Jude, are a slightly anachronistic section towards the end of a mostly very consistent album.

This album seems strongly linked to modern stage dance- short, dynamic, shifting complex patterns that would allow dancers to move and express in ways unexpected by the audience. Nevertheless it’s still an enticing and intriguing home listening album even if you’re not planning to choreograph yourself to it.

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