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
Music

The 60 Best Albums of 2007

From tech house to Radiohead and Americana to indie and everything in between, the 60 best albums of 2007 included many of the 2000s' best albums.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau's 'Walden'

Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?

Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.

Gary D. Rhodes, Ph.D
Television

Fleabag's Hot Priest and Love as Longing

In season two of Fleabag, The Priest's inaccessibility turns him into a sort of god, powerful enough for Fleabag to suddenly find herself spending hours in church with no religious motivation.

Music

Annabelle's Curse's 'Vast Oceans' Meditates on a Groundswell of Human Emotions (premiere)

Inspired by love and life, and of persistent present-day issues, indie folk band Annabelle's Curse expand their sound while keeping the emotive core of their work with Vast Oceans.

Music

Americana's Sarah Peacock Finds Beauty Beneath Surface With "Mojave" (premiere + interview)

Born from personal pain, "Mojave" is evidence of Sarah Peacock's perseverance and resilience. "When we go through some of the dry seasons in our life, when we do the most growing, is often when we're in pain. It's a reminder of how alive you really are", she says.

Television

Power Struggle in Beauty Pageants: On 'Mrs. America' and 'Miss Americana'

Television min-series Mrs. America and Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana make vivid how beauty pageants are more multi-dimensional than many assume, offering a platform to some (attractive) women to pursue higher education, politics, and more.

Hilary Levey Friedman
Music

Pere Ubu 'Comes Alive' on Their New, Live Album

David Thomas guides another version of Pere Ubu through a selection of material from their early years, dusting off the "hits" and throwing new light on some forgotten gems.

Music

Woods Explore Darkness on 'Strange to Explain'

Folk rock's Woods create a superb new album, Strange to Explain, that mines the subconscious in search of answers to life's unsettling realities.

Music

The 1975's 'Notes on a Conditional Form' Is Laudably Thought-Provoking and Thrilling

The 1975 follow A Brief Inquiry... with an even more intriguing, sprawling, and chameleonic song suite. Notes on a Conditional Form shows a level of unquenchable ambition, creativity, and outspoken curiosity that's rarely felt in popular music today.

Music

Dustbowl Revival's "Queen Quarantine (A Home Recording)" Is a Cheeky Reproach of COVID-19 (premiere)

Inspired by John Prine, Dustbowl Revival's latest single, "Queen Quarantine (A Home Recording)", approaches the COVID-19 pandemic with wit and good humor.

Books

The 2020 US Presidential Election Is Going to Be Wild but We've Seen Wild Before

Americans are approaching a historical US presidential election in unprecedented times. Or are they? Chris Barsanti's The Ballot Box: 10 Presidential Elections That Changed American History gives us a brief historical perspective.

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.