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

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.