Music

Jlin Contorts Her Experimental Club Music into a Malleable Soundtrack to Wayne McGregor’s 'Autobiography'

Publicity photo via Bandcamp

Jlin's soundtrack for Wayne McGregor's Autobiography brings guttural, experimental club music from the dancefloor to the theater stage.

Autobiography
Jlin

Planet Mu

28 September 2018

Jlin, born Jerrilynn Patton, has always had an affinity for the art of dance. However, while most listeners may associate her music with the footwork scene, "one of her lifelong dreams" has been to work with contemporary dance. Surely, her 2015 debut album Dark Energy and her highly acclaimed 2017 album Black Origami both use sporadic sampling techniques and frenetic kick patterns that allude to the improvised footraces of Chicago battlers. Though, these works also conceptually veer away from the underground dance scene into the interpretive movements of contemporary dancers, such as Avril Stormy Unger who has performed with Jlin at Boiler Room and Krakow's Unsound Festival. Moreover, Jlin's music videos have always focused on solo dance performances, asserting her experimental club music into the space of contemporary modern dance—"Carbon 7 (161)" follows the powerful, tautened contortions of Corey Scott-Gilbert, and "Unknown Tongues" moves with the bold, jagged twirls of Lilian Steiner.

Hence, Jlin's intersection of club music and contemporary dance has organically led her to the soundtrack work for Wayne McGregor's Autobiography. Linked together by Krakow's Unsound for an ongoing effort to connect electronic musicians with choreographers, Jlin contorts her experimental club music to score McGregor's choreographic memoir Autobiography, "a dance portrait illuminated by the sequencing of his own genome". Although the soundtrack is not technically Jlin's third album—her official third album is due in 2019 or 2020—it is an essential release of hers, as it continues her transgressive push of club music out of its ordinary spaces.

Jlin's soundtrack spirals down the double helix, intertwining forward thrusting beats, carillon interludes, and ambient works. The tracklist is not necessarily collated, but this lack of structure is necessary for McGregor's ever-evolving performance. For each showing of Autobiography, a computer algorithm based on McGregor's genome selects a new order of the 23 dance sections, which alludes to the 23 pairs of chromosomes in humans. Hence, Jlin's broad, malleable soundtrack is ready for the nightly variations of dance.

Nonetheless, the entire score is emblazoned with Jlin's identity. She divulges, "Wayne told me so gently that he trusts me completely with my direction of creating the score", giving her the creative freedom to insert her own DNA into the genome ofAutobiography. Accordingly, "The Abyss of Doubt" ruthlessly cuts with sharp, metallic synths, returning to a signature sound that remembers her prior job as a steel mill worker in Gary, Indiana. Moreover, "Unorthodox Elements" ricochets chopped speech into a stammering percussive effect, echoing the vocal experiments of her past works. And, "Kundalini" patters worldly drums over the twangs of sitars, resembling the global percussive assault that makes up Jlin's distinct aesthetic.

However, most intriguingly, Jlin's rigorous exploration of her genome—she recalls, "I would wake up at two in the morning and work until six in the evening until I completed all the pieces"—also discovers gentler productions for the score. While the majority of the 13 tracks are in line with Jlin's familiar aesthetic of unrelenting, percussive beats, the soundtrack also presents five drumless compositions. "First Overture (Spiritual Atom)" and "First Interlude (Absence of Measure)" are abstract carillon pieces that patiently twirl chimes and bells over a gentle stream of aquatic samples. "Anamnesis (Part 1)" and "Anamnesis (Part 2)" are keyboard works that intrepidly lean into dizzying, dissonant progressions. And to close the soundtrack, "Second Interlude (The Choosing)" dauntingly strikes piano chords over a bed of droning strings and operatic vocals. Indeed, these drumless works prove that the percussive virtuoso can also compose tension through melody or ambiance.

Jlin's soundtrack to Wayne McGregor's Autobiography demonstrates the electronic producer's rightful position in the contemporary dance space. Her experimental approach to club and ambient music complements the progressive choreographic mind of McGregor. The score's staggered rhythms are easily tangled to abstract legs, and its disjointed melodies are naturally entwined to twisted arms, making Jlin's soundtrack perfectly malleable for McGregor's Autobiography.

9
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Music

Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.

Music

Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.

Books

First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

Reviews

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Music

How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.

Music

Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.

Music

Paul Weller Dazzles with the Psychedelic and Soulful 'On Sunset'

Paul Weller's On Sunset continues his recent streak of experimental yet tuneful masterworks. More than 40 years into his musical career, Weller sounds as fresh and inspired as ever.

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.