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


Television


Recent
Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

Books

The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.

Music

Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.

Music

King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Music

Jim O'Rourke's Experimental 'Shutting Down Here' Is Big on Technique

Jim O'Rourke's Shutting Down Here is a fine piece of experimental music with a sure hand leading the way. But it's not pushing this music forward with the same propensity as Luc Ferrari or Derek Bailey.

Music

Laraaji Returns to His First Instrument for 'Sun Piano'

The ability to help the listener achieve a certain elevation is something Laraaji can do, at least to some degree, no matter the instrument.

Music

Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.

Music

The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.

Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

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.