When an artist takes a path as a percussionist, but wants to carve out a solo career, it must be quite a difficult decision to understand what and how you’re going to do that. Jlin’s second album “Black Origami” is an interesting listen as it deals with that very issue. When someone is all about drums, you can show off technical skill, but if that doesn’t translate to an in for someone to listen to it – it may come across as an obtuse work.
The opening title track is one of the best examples of Jlin firing at all cylinders. Between the plethora of drum samples and sharp production that makes each loop sound like a fitting insect sparking into your ear, there’s also plenty of weird and wonderful tuned samples being triggered. On their own they make little sense, but the fusion of all the seemingly random noises create a sound and a vibe that’s alien but tribal to its core. It’s this sound that Jlin pulls off and it feels like a cross over of music as its most primal, using futuristic tech to make it. That mix between old and new is what the album centres around with aggressive tracks like “Enigma” and “Kyanite” bringing a wonderful fusion of the two.
The issue with the album is progression – or the lack of it. It’s a unique buzz saw precise sound Jlin uses, but it doesn’t change across the twelve tracks. The same vocal snippets are spun on skipping loops, the same bass throb is used to underpin the drums and none of it ever progresses into a meaningful cohesion. The result is that by the end of the album, the tracks may be good but my ears have tuned the out into a smashed up blur. Jlin clearly has skill with the beats, but the lack of switch up at the core of each track, rather than just adding nice little frills round the edge tires your ears to it.
Percussionists may find something extra here, but without a melody or a range of time signatures or sounds to marvel at, Jlin’s “Black Origami” was somewhat of a one trick pony for me. I find it best to pick a song at a time, and then move onto something else so I can appreciate it. There’s something magical here, but it still needs some time to form melody for me to appreciate it.
Recommended Track : Kyanite