Published Nov 23, 2016At 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. The album is cyclical, the tracks all steeped in repetitiveness, with varying levels of layering and exploration. But when you hit on gems like "Squeaky Maya" or "Paradise Valley," heavy on the rim-clicks and continuously building on layer after layer, you can hear the direction Daniel is trying to push the album.
Broken Knowz does hit a few snags, with some tracks pushing the six-to-eight-minute mark and remaining pretty much static throughout (single "Knowledge of Selfie" comes to mind, the eight-and-a-half-minute track perhaps mirroring the constant repetition in our self obsession), but its shorter, more contained tracks override and stand out, showcasing what Daniel has to offer. (Technicolour)