Published Apr 30, 2018After earning an early-career reputation for pushing boundaries in the lesser-known electronic juke and footwork subgenres, Baltimore native Lil Jabba has gone a big step further with MiZO. It defies categorization, fusing elements of dub, jungle, UK garage and his own unique take on electronic music.
To be clear, Lil Jabba's commitment to novelty isn't the only thing he has going. This short LP is packed with gritty noise elements and dark ambience that lend the music real weight. Known for incorporating found-sound samples from his home studio in Brooklyn, it's no surprise that Jabba's work is so richly complex. He earns part of his living as a visual artist. Indeed, Lil Jabba's painting has been featured in Vogue and on numerous album covers.
The disc opens with "WiCKet," where multiple styles of percussion wrap themselves around a chopped-up vocal sample. It's all pent-up energy — the beats start and stop, a motorcycle revs, the vocal hiccups. Hang onto your seat.
"DisTilleR" is next, offering up the album's first bit of static. Jabba ties it closely to one of his beats and it's a lovely, subtle touch. Like a lot of these tracks, there's something here for fans of all the aforementioned genres, and for the more adventurous types who dig non-beat-oriented electronics.
"ForeST EdGE" and "MiZO" are the disc's two highlights. (We get two mixes of the latter, including a remix by WiTU.) These ones are a bit more open, or at least less claustrophobic. When Lil Jabba lets the electronics breathe a little, he creates a kind of complex ambient music; it may be what he does best. (Getme!)