Jlin‘s Black Origami was widely hailed as the one of the albums of 2017, with publications from Pitchfork to Mixmag featuring it high on their year-end lists. The second album from the US producer is a blend of visceral thrills and cerebral discipline, with pounding beats running into stretches of beautiful ambience. The album manages to be at once hyperactive and delicate, a creative tension which makes the songs reverberate in your ears for days.
Intriguingly, the standout, penultimate track ‘Never Created, Never Destroyed’ features guest vocals from Cape Town’s own Dope Saint Jude. Jlin pitches the local rapper’s voice into a memorising loop, conveying a sense of strident power. (And fittingly, this cinematic track was featured on a recent episode of Donald Glover’s Atlanta).
Jlin is herself from Gary, Indiana, a steel mill town most famous for being the birthplace of Michael Jackson. Her earlier production was bracketed with the Footwork genre, a vibrant style of House pounding out of the nearby city of Chicago. In 2015, she dropped the intense debut album Dark Energy. This futuristic collection was named album of the year by cult UK magazine The Wire and won the admiration of electronic legend Aphex Twin.
For her sophomore effort, she stripped her music to the core of rhythm and movement, with a laser focus on finding the very heart of experimental dance. As she described it in a press statement, “the simple definition of origami is the art of folding and constructing paper into a beautiful, yet complex design. I chose to title the album Black Origami because, like Dark Energy, I still create from the beauty of darkness and blackness. The willingness to go into the hardest places within myself to create, for me means that I can touch the Infinity“.
In Japan, the origami discipline sees its practitioners build incredibly sophisticated shapes from simple squares of paper. As her album title suggestively hints, Jlin is bringing the same discipline into experimental electronic music, raising sonic vistas from the raw clay of percussion and synthesiser. Black Origami triumphantly heralds her arrival as a visionary artist.