Jlin
Akoma


3.2
good

Review

by DadKungFu STAFF
March 29th, 2024 | 10 replies


Release Date: 03/22/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Easier to respect than love, Akoma often feels like a gentrified version of its style

Jlin’s music feels like an attempt to cerebralize (if that’s a word) the style of footwork, to bring it into the conceptual realm of haute-fashion and installation art. You don’t rope in Philip Glass if you’re shooting for low-concept, and you don’t soundtrack Paris Fashion Week if the couture tastemakers don’t view you as the absolute cutting edge. Jlin’s trajectory is one of the relentlessly dedicated craftsman-cum-auteur, and Akoma is little if not a conscious attempt to synthesize the working-class roots of footwork and Jlin herself with the high-concept sensibility she’s been courting for much of her career.

But here’s the thing. What ends up grating about this attempt is that in the process of refining the wonky rhythm’s and bare minimalism of footwork, Jlin’s gone and sucked a decent portion of the original charm out of the style. Now there’s no law saying that the genre needs to be relegated to an underground working-class Chicago aesthetic for it to be authentic, and to do so would be incredibly patronizing and narrow minded. I’d also be an absolute idiot to question Jlin’s working-class credentials. But the whole idea of this thing, Kronos Quartet and all, feels put-upon, her insistence on using these high minded musical elements coming across like they were intended solely for media blurbs, rather than feeling like a true collaboration with other artists. When I switch between this and the nocturnal starkness of RP Boo or the off-kilter soulfulness of Nondi_ I have to ask, why would the likes of Philip Glass have anything to say to footwork at all? Call me a miserable cynic, but for all the adulation, or at least notability these collaborations have been getting her in the press, there feels like a dearth of substance is laying behind them.

Not to say that this is as coldly impersonal of a work as the album art and the actual music would have you believe. And alright, alright I found myself warming up to this more and more the less I thought of it so strictly as a footwork album and more as the high-fashion afterparty soundtrack that it feels more comfortable as. There is clearly a brilliant imagination at work here, a mind that is not just bold enough to experiment but has that all-to-rare ability to know how to experiment. And many of these tracks do just straight up bang on an instinctual level. But in those times that this does work, when this really gets down to being something that ignites the mind and the heart, it does so very much in spite of its intellectual and artistic veneer, and not because of it.

So, with the incredible respect I have for Jlin and her trajectory as an artist and an individual, I struggle to take aboard the image and aesthetic of her albums as anything more than a glossy adornment for the sake of media hype. I admire Jlin's ambition to elevate footwork music into a realm where it's intersecting with high art and fashion. It's a bold move that demands attention and respect. However, in her pursuit of conceptual sophistication, there's a risk of losing the raw energy and charm that defined the genre in its original form. Yes, let’s challenge our notions of authenticity, yes, let’s acknowledge that the down-to-earth has an essential place in high art, but if it’s trying as consciously hard as Jlin sometimes feels like she is, and if the end result feels as gilded as the album art, what does it profit the genre to gain the attention and acclaim of the world, if it loses its soul in the process?



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user ratings (16)
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
March 29th 2024


4708 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Class analysis of musical styles? idk, much respect to Jlin though

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
March 29th 2024


5827 Comments


"what does it profit the genre to gain the attention and acclaim of the world, if it loses its soul in the process?" - nice!

Slex
March 29th 2024


16497 Comments


Have heard mixed things about this but I'm excited to check, class review tho

someone
Contributing Reviewer
March 29th 2024


6557 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Idk mane I still like

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
March 29th 2024


4708 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Perspective pretty handily tops this tho

someone
Contributing Reviewer
March 29th 2024


6557 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Oh defo

bigguytoo9
March 31st 2024


1409 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's not near as good as Black Origami.

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2024


3932 Comments


great review and interesting analysis - i like the album more than you i think but agree with your thesis, quite cold ay

jrlikestodance
April 1st 2024


288 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I thought this album was really cool

dedex
Staff Reviewer
April 3rd 2024


12774 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8 | Sound Off

"Easier to respect than love" my relationship with Jlin in five words, gj mane



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