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Dec 17

My Pop Year: JANA RUSH – “??? ??”

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The titles of Jana Rush’s tracks on her Pariah LP have an enjoyable bluntness. “Beat Maze.” “Chill Mode”. “Frenetic Snare.” She’s been DJing and making records for over 20 years, since she was 15. This is her debut full-length. So I suspect there’s a healthy unwillingness to piss about, or to dress up her music with unnecessary atmospherics. As another of the tracks puts it, “No Fuks Given”. It is what it is.

So…what is it? Each track is a footwork puzzle box, a mechanism of dry snares, hollow bass and chopped-up hooklets. The titles offer hints as to the functions of these machines but you work them out mostly by diving in – your ears, nerves, hips and feet if you’re limber enough, negotiating the riddles Rush poses. The learning curve is less steep, in my opinion, than on this year’s most-acclaimed footwork LP, Jlin’s very fine Black Origami. Pariah has more pop sense, albeit super-compressed. So I like it better.

On “??? ??” Rush’s powers of naming desert her completely. But it’s the catchiest, most mischievous track on her excellent record. Maybe it could have been called “Flute Track” or “Diced Jazz” or something – it’s built on a high, nervous piping over a jumpy drum riff before breaking down into cheeky, chopped-up trumpets. It’s wild and a little baffling but joyous most of all.

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