Album Review of Broken Knowz by Jay Daniel.
Release Date: Nov 25, 2016
Record label: Technicolour
Genre(s): Electronic, House, Techno, Club/Dance, Left-Field House, Jazz-House, Detroit Techno
The legacy of the Detroit techno scene casts a very large shadow over any emerging artist from Detroit. Artists such as the Belleville Brothers and latterly Jeff Mills and Carl Craig loom large over the Midwestern city and, for many the music they created and the path they forged, still defines the city’s sound. Inevitably, with such a rich musical history, it can be difficult for new artists to get themselves noticed.
“The reality of dance music is that it encompasses more than just dance music,” the 25-year-old DJ and producer Jay Daniel recently told an interviewer asking about the Detroit music scene. He also seemed to be displaying his career ambitions in a single sentence. After several notable years as a prodigious house and techno talent, Daniel is cautiously expanding his purview.
You could never accuse Jay Daniel's music of feeling plastic or soulless. His sound is rough: just check fucked up drum tracks like "No Love Lost" on his Sound Signature debut, his collaboration with Funkineven or the fuzzy warmth of his Wild Oats double-pack. Broken Knowz goes further. On his first album for Technicolour, Daniel says he ditched his drum machines in a quest for "more natural, more human" sounds.Nothing about these nine tracks is more perfectly imperfect than any of the Detroit producer's previous work, but they are more rhythmically inventive and complex.
Detroit's Jay Daniel first became known during the early 2010s for his tag-team DJ sets with fellow Motor City wunderkind Kyle Hall, as part of a monthly event called Fundamentals. Soon after, he began releasing gritty, stripped-down house tracks inspired by Detroit veterans like Moodymann and Theo Parrish, debuting in 2013 with an EP on Parrish's highly regarded Sound Signature label. Daniel expanded his sound through further releases, including a double-EP on Hall's Wild Oats, and Broken Knowz is his debut full-length, arriving by way of Ninja Tune's Technicolour imprint.
At just 25, Jay Daniel is the latest to emerge as one of the leading beatmakers of the current generation of Detroit's music scene. His debut album, Broken Knowz, for Ninja Tune's Technicolour imprint, is only the third LP to be released by the label alongside a slew of house EPs, and is characterized by a move away from traditional drum programming in favour of Daniel laying down the licks himself. The album embraces the use of loose, lazy breaks, the real-time drumming a welcome shuffle in place of the typically mechanical, overwrought play of programmed drums — especially on an album like Broken Knowz, whose sound feels earthy and organically composed.