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Albums - Issue 569

Jlin

Black Origami

Planet Mu

Rhythmic Odyssey
8.0
Origami is a challenging, incredibly precise pursuit. You need to really focus on that folding. But put in the legwork and you’re rewarded with something awesome. Think of it this way: you can’t do it when you’re drunk. The same is also true of ‘Black Origami’, the second album from hyper-progressive footwork producer Jlin. It’s not an easy listen, but give it the time it deserves and you’ll uncover a fantastic, fractured gem. Although footwork may be where Jlin’s music is rooted sonically and geographically-ish (she’s based in Gary, Indiana, a stone’s throw from Chicago), it’s almost derivative to file ‘Black Origami’ as such, due to a vast sonic palette that takes in the myriad of musical ideas bubbling up in the producer’s brain. Most recognisable is the use of rhythms as a percussive tool, but this is explored so deeply that the manic percussive structures take on a life of their own, becoming the backbone of many tracks, such as the intense ‘Hatshepsut’ or the free-flowing ‘Carbon 7 (161)’. Much of the album was inspired by Jlin’s collaborations with dancer and performance artist Avril Stormy Unger — which makes a lot of sense. For all its abstract qualities, ‘Black Origami’ is an immensely physical album that begs for movement.     And if, on paper, that all sounds too highbrow to be enjoyable, on record it really isn’t. In fact, the record still bangs in its own unique, seismic way. Both ‘Enigma’ and ‘Never Created, Never Destroyed’ (the latter featuring the shredded vocals of Cape Town rapper Dope Saint Jude) use more traditional footwork paradigms, turning jitters into hard, rhythmically insistent grooves. Then there’s the fearsome ‘1%’, a collaboration with electronic experimentalist Holly Herndon. Layered with shards of bass, it’s urgent, intense and frenetic, yet somehow immensely satisfying – much like the whole of ‘Black Origami’, in fact. Tristan Parker
Euan McGraw

ARCA

Arca

XL Recordings

2017
7.5
Arca’s third album is by far his most personal work to date; the London-based, Venezuela-born artist steps out from the layers of processing and production that have characterized his previous work, and gets up close and vulnerable on this magnificent, eponymous LP. ‘Arca’ also marks the first time the musician sings in his native Spanish, and the tender honesty of these vocals feel as if they’ve been influenced by the time he’s spent working with Björk. Longtime visual collaborator Jesse Kanda returns with a striking cover and video for ‘Anoche’, which portrays violence meshing with sexuality in a sharp relief compared to their previous works together. Musically, the same fragile purity carries through all of the mostly digital instrumentation and singing; the tracks feel as if they’ve been recorded in single takes as if to capture the emotional snapshots they’re trying to portray as honestly as possible. Overall, the album stands as a masterpiece of avant-garde electronic music that encapsulates 2017 and will be remembered as one of this year’s finest works. Zara Wladawsky
Euan McGraw

Clark

Death Peak

Warp

Nature calls
9.0
Christopher Clark’s last album, ‘Clark’ was a masterclass in bringing the outside in; through his intricate sampling and crushing techno workouts the Warp producer splintered fragments of the icy weather into a full-length. Three years later and ‘Death Peak’ is similarly informed by nature — but aimed at Spring (“springtime raving”, in his own words). There’s all of Clark’s signature heavily processing of sounds, erratic techno lines that zip about, and glitched out synths that blindside you out of nowhere before disappearing instantly, but on ‘Death Peak’ he’s using vocals more to shape and manipulate as an instrument. There’s moments of sheer beauty (the harpsichord line on ‘Aftermath’) as well as monolithic drums (which sit next to a cheesy, distorted EDM synth on ‘Hoova’). You can always expect the unexpected with Clark, and, when it’s all done this beautifully, what more could you possibly want? Felicity Martin
Euan McGraw

T.Raumschmiere

Heimat

Kompakt

Off the chain
8.5
Marco Haas aka T.Raumschmiere returns to Kompakt with his latest LP, ‘Heimat’. A weird and wonderful selection of off-kilter electro come techno with a nod to the reimagined Schaffel sound which bore this particular label-and-artist love affair in the first place. ‘Wacker’ is divine, whilst ‘Le Fux’ is comically haunting, but the entire thing is an auditory experience you must try. Leon Clarkson
Euan McGraw

The Final Experiment

Shed

Monkeytown Records

Tantalising techno
9.0
Though he has voiced his disinterest in the techno scene for a while, Polish artist Shed is very much part of it. Rather than at the centre, though, he has always operated in the shadows, with a breakbeat-laced sound that is hi-fidelity and high class. Once more here he offers up a full-length exploration of the genre that marries visceral rhythms with exquisite sound design and luxurious ambience. Each one of the 11 beautiful tracks is loose and weightless, silvery and sombre, with a heavenly backlit ambient glow that makes them part retro-dreamy rave material and part gentle comedown tackle. Always loopy and wried up with buffed metal pads and frazzled synths, the focus on his core aesthetic has never been stronger than on 'The Final Experiment', and for that reason it is one of the most complete techno meditations you’ll hear all year. Kristan J Caryl
Euan McGraw

Jimpster

Silent Stars

Freerange Records

8.0
Following the finest fundamentals of his last studio album ‘Porchlights And Rocking Chairs’, Jimpster takes us on another admirably artistic journey. For the latest LP ‘Silent Stars’ his inspirations are rooted in the night-time and nocturnal hours; his productions laced with hazy melodies and jazz infusions. During his 20 years of releasing music, we’ve been naturally drawn to his tastes through countless A&R successes on his globally applauded labels Freerange Records and Delusions of Grandeur. Every record has the stamp of organic soul-inspired house music that we’ve come to know and love and can vehemently be heard in Jamie Odell’s own creations. The album features an array of newfound stars including up-and-coming South London singer Florence Rawlings and Jindau, best known as the lead vocalist in Kirk Degiorgio’s band The Beauty Room. This album is an approval that sophisticated house music is alive and kicking, well into the daylight hours. Anna Wall
Euan McGraw

Hauschka

What if?

City Slang

Say what!?
9.0
For his eighth studio album, Hauschka rides a difficult line between inventiveness and accessibility. Real name Volker Bertelmann, the German pianist has composed ballet scores and soundtracks in the time since 2014’s ‘Abandoned City’, and the influence on his work is clear. Crossing the generative ambience of Brian Eno and Steve Reich with noise-tinged elements and leftfield electronica, ‘What If’ is a series expertly engineered cinematic compositions. Starting with the delicate ‘I Can’t Find Water’ — the first suggestion of a shift in focus for Bertelmann — the complex patterns of ‘Constant Growth Fails’ works into the more concerto-like ‘My Kids Live On Mars’ and ‘I Can’t Express My Deep Love’. The densely layered ‘Nature Fights Back’ follows, one of the most dynamic moments on the record, before the haunting ‘Familiar Things Disappear’ draws things towards a close. 
The result is a masterfully executed cinematic album, and one of Bertelmann’s strongest works yet. Rob McCallum
Euan McGraw

Octa Octa

Where Are We Going

Honey Soundsystem

Sweet house music
9.5
There is nothing particularly new or inventive about the melodic house music that Octo Octa makes, but it is always done so well as to standout. Across various EPs and an LP on 100% Silk the Brooklyn producer has proved that, and now she does so again with a sophomore album on San Francisco’s Honey Soundsystem. For the most part, her tracks feel more like songs, with lead synths that really resonant amongst the warm, rubbery drums of tracks like ‘Where Are We Going.’ Steamier efforts like ‘On Your Lips’ recall the grace and elegance of Larry Heard and bristling old school efforts like ‘Move On (Let Go) (De-stress mix)’ have an infectious garage skip that will enliven any DJ set. Add into that deep space rollers like ‘Preparation Rituals’ and you have a fresh and well informed house sound that is both timeless and universal. Kristan J Caryl
Euan McGraw