Jlin Black Origami Planet Mu
While pioneers of footwork such as RP Boo and the late DJ Rashad have restlessly probed at the genre’s boundaries, Jlin has all but done away with them. When she burst out of nowhere with Erotic Heat – an explosive track featured on Planet Mu’s Bangs and Works vol 2 compilation – the Gary, Indiana artist sounded completely on her own.
Unlike the aforementioned, Jlin doesn’t DJ, so her relationship with the footworking crews of Chicago is less immediate. In 2016, she explained via Twitter: “I don’t consider myself a footwork artist. I started my roots in footwork, but it evolved into something else.”
Black Origami, Jlin’s second full length, is mesmerising, mapping out further these wild evolutions in sound. The first thing that catches you is her mastery of percussion: Enigma plays with drum tone in ways I’ve never heard before, its interplay with a clipped vocal like a conversation between machine and spirit. Holy Child, created with experimental composer William Basinski, pits unsettling microtonal melodies and moments of pure flight amid bottomless sub tumbles.
A significant inspiration for Black Origami is Avril Stormy Unger, an Indian dancer who has performed with Jlin and is also credited on the Dark Lotus EP. Jlin has said that they share such a close understanding of each other’s rhythms that it scares them, and with Unger’s movement in mind, the music takes on new physical possibilities for the listener. Footwork has always been body music; dance music at its purest. Yet the avant-garde was never far away. With Black Origami Jlin has pushed both of these potentials to exhilarating extremes.