How much percussion and rhythmic thought can fit in under four minutes? A lot, when it’s in the hands of Gary, Indiana’s own Jlin. It’s soon to be in some human percussionist hands, too.

So yes, as social media apparently makes people grumpy much at the same time that it makes them depressed, my social feed is full of people saying that there is no new good music, that techno is dead, that all the best stuff happened in the 90s, and there are no good promos.

I could respond to that directly, but I can’t hear them over the sound of this:

I don’t mean to feed the trolls – on the contrary, I think this is a relevant answer to all that despair.

Sure, some people are chasing higher bpms, which is silly – like judging food just by calories or cars by the number of horsepower. (Yep. It’s the Jeremy Clarkson approach to dance music.) The opposite is ridiculous, too, which says you can’t have groove in faster music (most of the world’s music would beg to differ) or even that it has to be tied to genre (not in genres like techno that have been – delightfully – all over the place, also consistent with a lot of musical culture). I mean, sure, try slower bpms, too, just as you’ll often pitch music up and down to fit singers, you can move bpm (and subdivision, and beat emphasis) around to fix a groove.

It’s better to tune out all of that and make – and celebrate – new stuff. Is this fifth-wave techno? Hell, yeah, let’s call it that and hope there’s more of this. (I’d call it “Steve” or “Franzia” if that helped encourage more. Wait – we could call it “Gary.”) The beautiful thing is, we have producers like Jlin continuing to go in new directions. (She gets loads of attention and very much deserves it – one of those rare and wonderful and satisfying cases of that happening. Of course, some other folks deserve attention and don’t get it – especially the ones breaking the mold or at the margins of the music scene – and we’ll get to that, too.)

But wait – there’s more. First, mark your calendar for December, as more of this release is coming.

Second, we get “Embryo” twice over. This piece was a commission for the exceptionally virtuosic Third Coast Percussion, a leading ensemble for tackling new scores. I can’t wait to hear their version – it’s due in May.

Third, even all that is a teaser as there’s a Planet Mu full-length coming.

I say bring it on. Honestly, when my own musical imagination is sapped and I start to doubt my music, I don’t want to hear boring stuff. I want to hear stuff that knocks me over on my a**.

Full description, which I think is also worth reading. And it makes a strong argument for letting Jlin remind people “techno” – whatever it is – is alive and kicking hard.

Have a good weekend.

Jlin’s new EP “Embryo” marks a key point in the multi-platform artistic growth of the Indiana-based producer.

The title track “Embryo” features a bold and fiery sound palette recalling the futurism of nineties Detroit techno and British IDM without succumbing to their cliches. The track was written for the Chicago-based new music ensemble Third Coast Percussion who are set to release their version of the composition on Cedille Records in May 2022. The bumping “Auto Pilot” takes her mutant techno stance even further. With faint echoes of classic Model 500, it sounds like music for automated cars, robot cop junctions and virtual freeways in the air. A fifth wave techno? “Connect The Dots” is one of the standouts from her recent lives sets, with the kind of rhythmic complexity only Jlin can bring, underpinned by a glitch reborn and transmuted into something utterly of the here and now. Its final segment will catch listeners by surprise with it’s changing time signatures effortlessly rendered. 

Looking back on the new EP Jlin comments “I was just writing trying to get out of my own head. I wrote all these pieces in between commissions and trying to stay afloat mentally.” She singles out final track “Rabbit Hole” as a highlight for her – describing it as “a track I truly enjoyed making. It made me feel nostalgia yet connected me to my own evolution.” “Rabbit Hole” is the most laidback track on the EP. Its sound palette is one people know her for but the delivery is like a new kind of supercomputer live rendering of a panoramic widescreen landscape of pluto.

The new EP is of course only one aspect of her ever-prolific continued growth and despite lockdown she managed to record a live set for The Met museum in New York earlier this year. She’s also undertaken remixes for Jazz musician Steve Lehman, Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore, rising star Marie Davidson and violinist Galya Bisengalieva amongst others. She also created a remix of Beethoven for BBC Radio 6 as well as being commissioned by the Kronos Quartet to create a composition for their ’50 For the Future’ series. In addition, this past August, New York based dance company A.I.M by Kyle Abraham revealed a new work “Requiem: Fire in the Air of the Earth” featuring her music.

Jlin is currently working on a new full length album for Planet Mu. 

And thanks, Jerrilynn. Berlin is cold, dark, and rainy – so this is added reason to want to get back to some music making again. And yeah, more drums, less music scene doomscrolling.