Traxman – Da Mind Of Traxman review

With those bubbling toms and relentlessly ragged samples firmly fixed in the pantheon of modern dance music, juke and footwork are well and truly here to stay, thanks in no small part to Planet Mu Records and its tireless quest to showcase the authentic Chicago sound to a wider audience. With plenty of compilations, singles and artist albums getting notched up from the key protagonists in the scene, it’s now the turn of Traxman to step up to the plate with his album. Compared to some of his younger compadres, Traxman has been at it for a long time, with roots in Dance Mania 12”s in the nineties among other harder to trace offerings.

One thing that has typified juke’s arrival across the Atlantic has been its resolute construction for the dance battles, at times reaching an alien level of machination just in order to get the feet moving quickly. That, of course, has always been a large part of the appeal of the music, but there have not been so many attempts to take purest juke and express it in more contemplative ways. Now Traxman’s album sheds some light on just how it sounds when the doors of possibility are flung open, and to these ears it sounds like juke coming of age.

Album opener “Footworkin On Air” is stunningly complex, taking melodic wooden hits and working them around that hyper-detailed chop while rapid flocks of 303 come soaring overhead. It’s rich and developed in its musicality, and truly heart-wrenching in a way that so much juke fails to be. There’s plenty of more typical juke moments to be had too, but then you’ll find yourself bowled over by the joyous soul of “I Need Some Money”, which sounds like a summer time smash doubled over on its own rhythm.

If there’s one tune that marks a touching, if somewhat brazen, nod to the roots of everything juke stands for, it’s “1988”. The driving hook is, unsurprisingly, a thick 303 line that sounds like the kind that Luke Vibert can be known to get nasty with, working the portamento to deadly effect within that rapid fire framework. Compared to his edgy counterparts, Traxman poses the first kind of juke that might crossover to a wider reach of listeners. There’s a real sense of light and emotion in his music which bodes well for people attaching to particular tracks in a way that its quite hard to with other juke artists. Best of all though , the music he makes is still resolutely, 100 per cent juke.

Oli Warwick


Tracklisting:

1. Footworkin On Air
2. Itz Crack
3. Callin All Freaks
4. Slip Fall
5. I Need Some Money
6. Let There Be Rockkkkk
7. Rock You
8. Chilllll
9. Going Wild (ft. Rashad & AG)
10. Work Me 2011
11. 1988
12. I Must Deadly Killer
13. Sound Filed
14. Lady Dro
15. Setbacks
16. The Comeback 2011
17. Conq Dat Bitch
18. Lifeeeee Is For Ever