In the wake of her critically acclaimed 2015 debut album ‘Dark Energy’, Gary, Indiana-based electronic producer Jlin (real name Jerrilynn Patton) has become one of the most touted figures currently operating amongst the US-based footwork scene. What’s particularly curious is the way in which she’s become involved in the scene, initially engaging with the genre through online forum and mixtapes due to her geographical isolation from larger cities, before going on to regularly correspond with influential scenebuilders such as the late DJ Rashad. If anything, this isolation from footwork hotbeds such as Chicago seems to given Jlin the ability to view the scene from afar, and apply more critical distance to her own interpretation of the genre.
Indeed, to call this second album ‘Black Origami’ a footwork album would be something of a grievous oversimplification, because while Jlin uses the genre as a jumping off point, her tracks often manage to take things to a different place entirely. In this case, the title ‘Black Origami’ proves to be a accurate metaphor for what’s happening here, as Jlin folds layers of rhythmic and manipulated vocal elements into meticulously designed sound sculptures, the results often being as dizzying as they are invigorating. There’s a lot here to take in all in one dose, and virtually no let-up in rhythmic activity, with all of the tracks here primarily being composed of percussive elements.
Title track ‘Black Origami’ opens proceedings with a spiralling rush of brittle gamecore synth tones, before thundering percussion rolls and spidery hi-hat shuffles emerge into the foreground, the eerie minor key pads and echoing wordless vocal samples adding the atmosphere of a tribal ritual as flute elements play at the very edges, before suddenly being sucked away into a glittering rush of woodblock rhythms and hissing snare delay. ‘Kyanite’ meanwhile places the emphasis on volleys of batucada-style metallic percussion as birdsong and ominously buzzing Brazilian instrumentation adds a tropical atmosphere to the stuttered cut-up female vocals and distant gong crashes, before ‘Hatsheput’ injects some rave elements into the mix as militaristic snare rolls and rapid-fire bass kicks intersect with hoovering distorted synths and arrhythmic cowbell tics, before a referee’s whistle announces a clamber down through layers of densely packed tribal percussion and harsh, machine-gun snares.
Elsewhere, ‘1%’ sees Jlin collaborating with Holly Herndon to create what’s easily one of this album’s most dark and claustrophobic offerings as a sample of Resident Evil’s Red Queen gives way to a rush of automated phone operator messages, jittery synth blips and off-centre breakbeats, while a distorted bass synth buzzes like a faulty powerline in the background, heightening the sense of mounting paranoia. All up, ‘Black Origami’ represents a significant step forward for Jlin, as well as one of 2017’s essential electronic music albums.