Darren Keen – It’s Never Too Late To Say You’re Welcome

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[ Orange Milk, 2017 ]

On his second full-length for Orange Milk Records, Darren Keen achieves the escape velocity that plunge him beyond the clichés of footwork, setting him free of endlessly repeating spoken-word samples that, let’s face it, can get quite annoying after a longer while. The drum patterns are as tight, fast and complex as ever. But here, Keen manages to slow down sometimes, providing a much-needed rest from the sensory overload of the genre, while proving that he’s able to break the mold and look further without locking himself into the safe zone. The album is full of politeness, which is also a welcome thing in the world of ubiquitous trolling and constant middle fingers toward everybody. Keep being polite, Mr. Keen. It works very well. Highly recommended!

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Jakub Lemiszewski – 2017 [nielegal]

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[ Self-released / MAGIA, 2017 ]

What a crazy guy, that Lemiszewski dude. What will 2017 be like in 2071?, he asks on his Bandcamp page. The cover of 2017 (nielegal) doesn’t help answering this question at all – a broken laptop screen, an old man in CCCP t-shirt, a wallet filled with vegetables instead of money and, like a cherry on top of  cake – some bro reading Karl Marx’ Capital in a swimming pool while wearing inflatable arm rings. Does Jakub poke fun at our generation, who tries to be “woke” and aware of the fact that late capitalism is in fact a dead end, but hey, “at least we’ve got memes”? Dunno, maybe it’s just a collage of funny pictures. The truth keeps eluding us. But Lemiszewski keeps on bombarding our senses with his own brand of wacky, stroboscopic footwork which is a wonderful distraction from the struggle of everyday life. Keep on doing your nielegal stuff, Jakub. You’re the best. Recommended, in case you haven’t noticed yet.

Rhythm Baboon – Baboonism

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[ Pawlacz Perski, 2017 ]

A distorted, slowed-down sample of Daft Punk’s “Revolution 909” emerges from the opening piece “Cor 2 Cor” on Baboonism, a new album by the Gdansk based freak footwork producer Rhythm Baboon. And it only goes better from there – the core material is indeed the Windy City’s trademark genre, but here it’s slowed down and deconstructed, sometimes to the point of becoming skeletal rhythms falling into the deep well of ambient sounds, echoing and reverbing to an ominous effect. The spoken word samples, so abundand in footwork, are also present here, but smeared and blurred to sound like creepy industrial machines peering from beyond the edge of consciousness. Basically: if footwork is like a good psychedelic trip, then Baboonism looms on the verge of a bad trip. A good bad trip. Does it even make sense? Find out for yourself.

Jakub Lemiszewski – DAAAMN

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[ Polish Juke, 2016 ]

Daaamn indeed! Polish electronic wizard Jakub Lemiszewski has done some evolution since HERMES and Diana and decided to go ballistic, strapping his music to a rocket and firing it all the way to Chicago to return with a hyperactive take on footwork, turning the juke level all the way up to 11. Man, this goes hard! The album is total slave to the rhythm, be it the irregular, jagged juke pinball machine insanity or the hard-to-penetrate techno full of meticulously cut-up and arranged samples and microsounds, making an incredibly energetic, busy and detailed music, while never falling into any footwork cliches (oversimplificiation, too many annoying sample repetitions). DAAAMN maanges to stay over the top and perfectly controlled at the same time in a genre where there’s a very thin line between sounding fresh and being a mere copy. This hits hard!! Highly recommended!!

Foodman – Ez Minzoku

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[ Orange Milk Records, 2016 ]

The new era of hyperactive musique concrete is upon us, with Japan’s Foodman (sounds like a silly superhero’s name, doesn’t it?) using footwork as a blueprint for craaaazy sonic cut-ups that feel like being generated by a mad scientist’s computer which has gone mad itself. On Takahide Higuchi’s newest album the “footwork” aspect appears to be stripped to its raw basics, sometimes even abandoned completely, reduced only to its most skeletal structures and rhythms, mostly becoming a strange maze of warped samples, odd time signatures, spoken word snippets (both sped up and slowed down) and colorful splashes of synth wizardry. Ez Minzoku is utterly weird – like a garden gnome making dance music, as someone on Bandcamp pointed out.

Beat Detectives – Boogie Chillen / The Hills of Cypress

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[ Where To Now?, 2015 ]

Whoah! What is even going on here!? New York City’s Beat Detectives are some sly motherfuckers, escaping any attempts at pinpointing their sound with each release. While Climate Change (also released this year) was a lo-fi club adventure, 100% SILK style; their cassette Boogie Chillen /  The Hills of Cypress feels like a completely insane take on both plunderphonics and West Coast hip-hop genres (hence the title, bringing Cypress Hill to mind immediately). Some 100 minutes of mutated beats are divided into four almost 25-minute long tracks with more or less warped lo-fi structures that constantly melt and dissolve into each other – with a lot of weird spoken word / sung samples which linger in the background like resin on a glass pipe. Utterly strange and highly recommended!

Darren Keen – He’s Not Real

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[ Orange Milk Records, 2015 ]

Is Darren Keen real? He probably isn’t. Sure, we might see some long-haired, big-framed dude when we type “Darren Keen” into Google search, but that guy is just a simulacrum. The real Darren Keen is a musical algorithm, designed to collect cool samples and put them into tight patchworks of the footwork genre so well it almost puts the genre’s Chicago godfathers to shame. Incredibly melodic and precise at the same time, it feels like Brooklyn’s laser guided answer to the Teklife crew, although with a bit of that Orange Milk flair left intact. Darren Keen might not be real, but this album definitely is real.