Music

J Dilla: Dillatronic

Ma Dukes digs into her late son's backlog of unreleased work for a 41-track album of instrumental cuts influenced by electronic music.


J Dilla

Dillatronic

Label: Vintage Vibez Music Group
US Release Date: 2015-10-30
UK Release Date: 2015-10-30
Amazon
iTunes

J Dilla passed away at the young age of 32 from Moschcowitz syndrome, a rare blood disorder also known as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. The disease causes tiny clots to form that harm several vital organs. His illness slowed down his mainstream work, but Dilla was still well-represented on file sharing networks. Donuts would be the final album released in his lifetime, arriving on shelves on February 7, 2006, his 32nd birthday. Three days later he would pass away due to cardiac arrest.

Dilla isn’t the first musical genius with an untimely death nor will he likely be the last, unfortunately, Mozart comes to mind certainly, his unfinished Requiem Mass in D Minor. Or the vitality in the final albums of George Harrison and Warren Zevon, two men faced with their mortality and responding with graceful and thoughtful final works.

There’s something to be said for art that transcends the time of its creation and art that resonates long after the life of the author. Donuts is one of those albums. J Dilla needs no comparisons, he stands on his own as one of the most vital musical forces of the 20th century and beyond.Since his passing in 2006, Dilla’s work has been curated by his mother, Ma Dukes. Dilla was a prolific beat maker in his lifetime and there is likely much more material that has yet to see the light of day, let alone an official release.

Dillatronic is a posthumous release of instrumental music, loosely connected to a theme: electronic music. In a press release for the album, Dilla’s mother said, “I can smile in my heart, knowing my son's work is being shared with the people as we planned before he passed. I only share the best, and I only hope to continue introducing the world to the genius of J Dilla.”

It’s more bare bones than finished product, but it makes for a fascinating experience, seeing a genius sketch out musical ideas, slowly teasing out what works and what doesn’t. This is a release for the most devoted of fans, the type of music listener who buys Japan-only releases of albums because they simply have to have the alternate mix on an album they’ve previously purchased in multiple formats.

Most of the instrumental cuts run somewhere in the neighborhood of two or three minutes, while not the engrossing experience of his magnum opus, Donuts it’s still a worthwhile experience. Dilla had an ear for arrangement, things never feel claustrophobic or overly busy. He had a deft touch behind the console and it shows, the production feels full but open enough you could almost pass your hand through it.

Dillatronic is definitely a release that appeals more to hardcore fans but it’s still worth hearing. The beauty of J Dilla’s music is that people are continuing to share it and make new music with it. It’s a damn shame that he is no longer with us, but he’s only as far away as your nearest record store or pair of headphones.

7

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

Keep reading... Show less

Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image