sun 22/05/2022

CD: DJ Diamond - Flight Muzik | reviews, news & interviews

CD: DJ Diamond - Flight Muzik

CD: DJ Diamond - Flight Muzik

Fancy footwork? Esoteric dance music from Chicago

This is pretty weird stuff. Or at least, that’s the way it seems at first. If all you know, as I did to begin with, is that DJ Diamond is a 24-year-old DJ from the West Side of Chicago whose real name is Karlis Griffin, and that Flight Muzik is his debut album, then this will seem like music from another planet – one where notions such as melody, structure and listenability have little meaning; it’s music, but not as most of us know it.

The rhythms are complex and multilayered – often there’s more than one going on at the same time: a hummingbird-fast heartbeat as the backdrop, with something slower, more circular and R Kelly-ish over the top. There are squelchy, parpy synth noises, occasional voices (heavily treated, and looped/repeated), a smattering of brass, but there is almost nothing that resembles a tune. The mood is tense, increasingly so: an atmosphere of creeping dread infects every track, and no one should be fooled by the Pokemon references in a couple of song titles (“Digimon”; “I Choose You”): frankly, it’s all a bit scary.

But then I looked a bit deeper and found that DJ Diamond is part of a Chicago dance and music scene called footwork (what a creative hothouse that city has been over the past century: jazz and blues, Chicago house, and now this). On YouTube I saw rival crews dancing against each other, their feet a blur, their arms whirling. This, it seems, is DJ Diamond’s world. In almost any other context, Flight Muzik would clear a dance floor within seconds, causing revellers to run screaming for the exits, their hands clasped over their ears. In this peculiar, esoteric world, though, his music makes perfect sense, his absurdly frantic rhythms a challenge for the rubber-limbed athleticism of the footwork dancers. But still, to my untutored ears, it’s damn weird.

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