Release Date: May 20, 2014
Record label: Planet Mu
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance
The rapid ascent of footwork and juke over the past few years has made it hard to remember how jarring and alien the sounds really were when they first appeared outside their native Chicago. Even after my ears had grown accustomed, I was sceptical of the genre's longevity. I was wrong to be, of course, as recent years have seen a deluge of fantastic interpretations of the style.
As footwork’s gained a certain cachet of “cool” over the past handful of years—swelling gradually from regional curiosity to global movement—there’s been a refreshing lack of “cool” surrounding Traxman. It’s not the fact that he’s been in the game longer than just about anybody: he practically wrote the rulebook, DJing and producing over three sprawling decades of mutations that Chicago house’s DNA underwent, gradually percolating into juke and abstracting into footwork and blurring the lines between all of the above. There’s a cheeky-yet-deadly earnest wink to much of his work, the kind that sits parallel to irony but couldn’t be further from it; in a sphere that rewards overt humor—see DJ Rashad and Freshmoon’s doofily hysterical “Everybody”, built around a meme from the TV show "Intervention", or snarky DJ Slugo numbers like “Wouldn’t You Like To Be A Hoe Too”—Traxman’s sense of humor has persistently tended towards kitsch.
Footwork, says Cornelius Ferguson, is “house music at its best – it just got younger.” To an international audience, the high velocity sound of Chicago’s underground may seem to have emerged out of the blue a few years ago. Traxman is here to remind us that, far from it, his beloved style is drawing on and reinvigorating decades-old musical traditions. It makes sense that Ferguson, moreso than many of his peers, should be mindful of heritage.