Last year, Gary, Indiana-based electronic producer Jlin’s (real name Jerrilynn Patton) second album ‘Black Origami’ saw her leaving her early footwork-centred beginnings far behind, her productions instead venturing further out into intricately detailed sound sculpture. A year on, both artist and label are keen to stress that this latest album ‘Autobiography’ (the soundtrack to her collaboration with UK dance choreographer Wayne McGregor of the same name) doesn’t repesent Jlin’s third album proper – that’s apparently still at least a year away.
In this case, it scarcely seems to matter, with the 13 tracks collected here offering up some of Jlin’s most impressive and ambitious work to date, and easily satiating the listener just as much as a ‘proper’ album would. What’s particularly impressive is the deft way in which this collection is able to smoothly join the dots between the beats powering everything from UK garage and footwork, through to traditional Asian and Middle Eastern music, in a manner that feels instinctive and visceral rather than token or awkward.
While the surging ‘Annotation’ immediately taps into the spirit of classic UK rave and hardcore as its blaring synth stabs fuse with a gritty trap undercarriage, ‘Carbon 12’ spends its first minutes floating through delicate vibraphone percussion, before suddenly locking down into serrated, highly detailed snare programming that sits at the midpoint between trap, IDM and footwork’s jagged unpredictability.
Elsewhere, ‘Anamnesis’ ventures into minimalist cyclic piano arrangements that call to mind Philip Glass as layers of keyboards build up into a wall of rich textures against sampled field recordings and glitchy digital detritus, while ‘The Abyss Of Doubt’ sends treated spoken word samples and shrieks that suggest an inner monologue of negative voices (“They’re just gonna laugh at you”) ricocheting against a spiky backdrop of flexing snare rolls and panicked synths that seems to collapse in on itself at points.
It’s ‘Kundalini’ though that represents the percussive highpoint of this album whilst showcasing Jlin’s meticulous approach to sound design as vast rolling Middle Eastern percussion and plaucked instrumentation seems to virtually leap out of the speakers. An excellent new album (proper third one or not) from Jlin that easily ranks among the best stuff I’ve heard this year.