“I don’t like restrictions,” Jerrilynn Patton tells us down the phone from a hotel room in Berlin where she’s gearing up for the final few shows of a year she describes as her busiest to date. Patton’s better known as Jlin, the fearlessly experimental footwork-not-footwork producer responsible for ‘Black Origami, the dizzyingly innovative, disarmingly dislocated LP that was one of 2017’s most beguiling and brilliant releases.
The follow up to 2015’s ‘Dark Energy’ on Planet Mu (itself a masterpiece of stutter and staccato), ‘Black Origami’ saw Patton move even further away from the rigidty of the Teklife producers she’s often grouped in with, and the result was a record of sonic singularity: kuduro meets ragga, waterlogged proto-hardcore ripples against steely ambience. It sounds like nothing and no one else. Which, you suspect, is entirely the point. “Before you even begin to create you have to face things about yourself that you don’t like. A lot of people are afraid of themselves.Including me,” she admits.
Having spent much of 2017 establishing herself as a mainstay on the more avant end of the European festival circuit, the Indiana resident has found herself exploring life outside her comfort zone. She cites the ensuing sense of vulnerability she feels on stage as something “real, human and especially important in this day and age”, in a world she describes as “insane”. Both her frenetic live shows and recorded output explore post-millennial tensions and the textures, tones, and timbres clashing and competing queasily: music for an age of ever-increasing uncertainty. “Everyone I know, literally, has anxiety,” Patton tells me. “I have anxiety. I didn’t have it two years ago. If you don’t have anxiety in 2017, then there’s something wrong with you.”
If ‘Black Origami’ is in part a timely channelling of fear and frustration, it’s also a clanking, cacophonous celebration of the act of craft, a manifestation of its creator’s total dedication to music as a means of making sense of life itself. “Making music for me is like birth: the baby has to come out,” she says. “We can’t push the baby back in. It has to come out.”
Josh Baines is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Twitter