The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

REVIEW: Jlin – ‘Black Origami’ (Planet Mu)

  • 9/10
    - 9/10


‘Black Origami’ is a modern electronic masterpiece, strikingly original and promising a huge artistic and commercial future for Jlin.

Indiana-based bedroom artist Jerrilynn Patton, who records under the name of Jlin, scored a significant underground success with her full-length debut album Dark Energy back in 2015, off the back of several years’ worth of EPs and stand-alone compositions. Her fidgety, restless music is closely allied to the ‘footwork’ genre that exploded in Chicago in the 1990s but has undergone a serious revival in recent years, but that triumph allowed Jlin to travel the world, collide with new sounds and make musical allies as well as performing her music at prestigious fashion shows. The result of the absorption of these influences is her second album, Black Origami, which takes her art to another level and is a dead cert to be right near the top of the best albums of 2017.

Melody is almost completely absent from Jlin’s thrillingly volatile mixes, heavily reliant on textures and atmosphere. Polyrhythms are stretched to the point where you feel they might snap through tension, disembodied voices and cries swoop in and out, and the overall effect places Jlin up there with the likes of Alejandro Ghersi (aka Arca) and Holly Herndon as one of the most forward-thinking operators in electronic music.

But, furthermore, there’s a dedication in her crafting this sonic architecture that places her in a grand tradition going back to much older ‘90s pioneers like Aphex Twin and Autechre. It’s mechanical and put together with an unbelievably precise ear for detail, but Jlin’s genius is in making everything on Black Origami sound so unmistakably human. It’s also distinctly different from anything else she’s made before, more difficult to reconcile with the more straightforward industrial leanings of Dark Energy – everything a sophomore album should be.

The amazing rhythmical shudders and jerks of ‘Enigma’ settle the record down after the startling, scattershot beats of the opening title track. The clattering Indian percussion and congas of ‘Kyanite’ sound like you’re walking some kind of dense, steamy alien jungle. ‘Hapshepsut’ has a thrillingly improvisational kind of quality to it. The joy of Black Origami is to be found in individual moments that might only last for a second or two: a guttural bass rumble, a drum fill, a collision of multiple beat chains. Needless to say, the ground is so fertile and rich with these moments that you could listen to this album for days and still find new things in it.

After a sonic onslaught in the first six tracks, the music on Black Origami begins to open up and diversify as it progresses into its second half. The beats on ‘Carbon 7 (161)’ glide over the mix rather than jackhammer into the listener’s skull. The trap feel of ‘Never Created, Never Destroyed’ sets Jlin up to be a possible hip-hop producer in the future, demonstrating that she could easily lend her skills to other artists as a collaborator. The Holly Herndon-featuring ‘1%’ is the only real clue as to Jlin’s origins before Dark Energy, a more basic throwback that sticks out like a sore thumb among the cutting-edge production.

Black Origami is a modern electronic masterpiece, strikingly original and yet unmistakably part of a proud lineage of groundbreaking studio-bound music. Considering this is only the second full-length effort from a prodigiously young producer, the artistic and commercial potential for Jlin over the coming years is frightening. (9/10) (Ed Biggs)

Listen to Black Origami here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!

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