Jlin – Embryo
Indiana producer Jlin’s polyrhythms and syncopations might appear as apparent chaos, but therein lies the brilliance of her skill as sound designer or perhaps more appropriately, auteur. With her origins in footwork, Jlin has continuously broken the boundaries of her own genre, cooking up increasingly more ambiguous drum beats and percussive patterns. While impossibly abstract like the sonic equivalent of a Jackson Pollock, her beats are in fact obsessively constructed, phrases and patterns not merely thrown together but rather formulated to create an intricate mesh. When Embryo, the first single off her new EP of the same name, arrived earlier this year it was a reminder of just how incredibly multidimensional her work can be while retaining a level of cohesive fluidity that only Jlin herself could understand how to formulate.
With its lead modulation buzzing like a demented insect from start to finish, Embryo phased every few bars into patterns of breaks, footwork kicks, and techno sledgehammers. Embryo also brought about a new direction in tonality for Jlin. Never before has her music sounded so edgy, seething with an angst and grunginess that immediately distinguished Embryo from the doumbek sensuality of 2017’s Black Origami, perhaps most closely matched by the spikiness of 1% from that same album. Embryo’s edge follows through on the rest of the eponymous EP, released via Planet Mu. And while the title track is the most erratic of the bunch on the EP, the rest of the music continues Embryo’s template of placing wonky synth riffs over breakneck beats toward new directions and ideas. Auto Pilot takes a buzzing trance riff and imposes it on a pattern that shifts from techno toward two-step and footwork, while Rabbit Hole is the closest Jlin’s formula comes to slowing down with a trap-influenced energy. Connect The Dots meanwhile is the EP’s strongest moment outside of the title track. Placing pointillist pin prick synth sounds against a propulsive mix of jersey club and drill, the track is textured with polyrhythmic drum sounds and bouncing bass. The masterstroke comes as Connect The Dots shifts its tempo and pattern toward its latter half, a move that surges with remarkable fluidity and sets up its explosive finale.
With Embryo, Jlin gives us some of the most kinetic dance ideations of the year. Her mastery and technical skill in designing percussive soundscapes that defy the boundaries of rhythm and pattern create a dynamism to Embryo that feels as organic as it is mathematical.
Listen to Connect The Dots from Embryo below.