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Jana Rush - Painful Enlightenment Music Album Reviews

Jana Rush - Painful Enlightenment Music Album Reviews
The veteran Chicago footwork producer tests the genre’s stylistic limits on a bracing, sometimes harrowing album that documents her struggles with depression.

Veteran Chicago footwork producer Jana Rush says that Painful Enlightenment, only her second album since she debuted in 1995, isn’t a footwork record. She might be right: Painful Enlightenment’s abstract passages, tortured rhythms, and sprawling webs of sound have little to do with footwork’s classically coiled energy and perpetual forward motion. But fans of the Chicago genre might also see Painful Enlightenment as an unwitting tribute to footwork’s versatility: Created partly as a document of Rush’s struggles with depression, the album both tests the genre’s stylistic limits and expands its customary subject matter.

After a short introductory track that pairs skeletal drums with determined blasts of saxophone, “Suicidal Ideation” establishes the album’s mood with nine minutes of migraine bass throb, eerie piano, and collapsed rhythms, suggesting the anguished disorientation of personal torment. Desperate vocal snippets jab at the beat like yelps of despair; it’s an exceptionally evocative, if alarming, musical portrait of a mental state. “Drivin’ Me Insane,” featuring Nancy Fortune, is similarly disturbing: An anamorphic vocal flattens the song’s title into the enervating drone of a digital distress signal, while a triplet rhythm drops with the excruciating near regularity of water torture.

Jazz is a major influence on Painful Enlightenment, both in the album’s sample sources—the saxophone trills on “Moanin’,” the swing of the title track—and in the freeform geometric shapes of the songs, which don’t so much go from A to B as crawl about with vague purpose. Not unlike free jazz, Painful Enlightenment sometimes requires a leap of faith from the listener, who has to believe that contradictory rhythms will eventually make sense. “Mynd Fuc” appears to be operating at two entirely opposing tempos, as languid piano intersects with frantic electronic percussion. But it is the combination of these apparently antithetical impulses that gives the song its unique rhythmic feel, like walking in weary zig-zags down a crowded city street, or going out dancing to cover up the pain.

All of this is far from footwork’s familiar terrain of dance crews and rolling basslines. But it would be wrong to entirely dismiss the genre’s influence. Even at Painful Enlightenment’s most abstract moments—“Suicidal Ideation,” say, or “Disorientation”’s patchwork of elevator-machinery funk—footwork’s signature is legible in the songs’ fidgety sub bass and samurai-sharp hi-hat workouts. “Disturbed” takes things even further back, its diva-esque vocal samples and comparatively strait-laced 4/4 rhythm suggesting classic Chicago house, even if the context makes the song’s twin vocal hooks of “I need someone” and “I need you” sound considerably more desperate than they might on a record by the late Paul Johnson, whom Rush counted as a mentor.

Footwork’s durability over the past decade, as it spread out from its Chicago home, has been rooted in its adaptability, with the genre incorporating everything from jungle rhythms to romantic R&B melodies (as heard on DJ Manny’s excellent new album Signals in My Head). Painful Enlightenment matches footwork’s musical malleability with expanded emotional range, using the genre’s base ingredients to explore a world of trauma and resilience.  It’s a grown-up album in a world where growing up is frequently painful.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Jana Rush - Painful Enlightenment Music Album Reviews Jana Rush - Painful Enlightenment Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, August 17, 2021 Rating: 5

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