August 12, 2021
(Planet Mu)The Chicago producer finds new emotional depths to the footwork genre, confronting depression and overwork in stunningly original music
Jana Rush: Painful Enlightenment review – an electronic visionary
Few music genres have generated as much invention and perspiration in recent years as footwork, the Chicago-born dance style where pumping tempos of house are ratcheted up as if by a sadistic personal trainer to the point where they seem to stutter and gasp for air. The chopped samples and snapping percussion of rap add structure back into the mix, though the cornea-detaching bass threatens to undo it all again.
Only the most nimble and athletic dancers can truly keep up with this aural pandemonium, making the style popular among showboating dance crews. The extremity also endears it to the gothic chinstrokers of the avant-electronic scene, meaning that your average footwork event is likely to contain both the most and least awkward people you can imagine. Chicago heroes such as RP Boo and the late DJ Rashad went global and released landmark LPs in the early 2010s, and the curation of UK label Planet Mu has helped to keep the scene healthy outside the midwest (as well as Painful Enlightenment, it also released DJ Manny’s excellent Signals in My Head last month). At a time when the big pianos and vocal lines of Chicago house are used by lazy producers to signify euphoria rather than actually generate it, footwork is a reminder of how progressive and emotionally rich dance music can be. And with her second album, Jana Rush pushes it further than ever before.
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