- No matter how you look at it, DJ Earl's Open Your Eyes has a lot to live up to. The involvement of Daniel Lopatin, AKA Oneohtrix Point Never, was enough to inflate expectations. But in some sense it also felt like this album would be an important statement for the future of footwork as a whole. It's the first full-length of all new material to appear on the Teklife crew's eponymous label, following only a collection of archive material from the late DJ Rashad.
Indeed, Open Your Eyes has a confidently evolved sound. You can tell it's a footwork album just from the track titles, and much of it sticks to what might be called the conventions of the scene. Opening track "Smoking Reggie" is a typically frenetic number filled with G-funk synths and chopped vocal samples about smoking weed. "Lotta A$$" is an all out kick drum assault typical of the genre. But there's a noticeable difference here: an undeniable sheen and depth to the sound, especially when compared to the rough-and-ready, often claustrophobic mastering of earlier footwork records.
This seems indicative of Lopatin's involvement. He's credited explicitly as a contributor on three tracks ("Smoking Reggie," "Rachett," "Let's Work") and he mixed the album. But it's hard to tell where his contribution begins and ends—and to the album's benefit. Lopatin seems present in the overflowing synths, like the distorted chords in "Smoking Reggie," the bubbling lead in "Lotta A$$" or the Levon Vincent-esque dubby pads that drive "Fukk It Up." Those elements are crystal clear, at once experimental and almost comforting.
But Open Your Eyes is first and foremost party music. The tense samples of "Drumatic" might seem alienating, but they'll surely destroy on the right dance floor, as would the ravey synths in "Rachett." "Smoke Dat Green" is an exercise in half-step, like something one of the many footwork-influenced UK producers would do, which DJ Earl combines with subtle, cut-up breaks. "Let's Work," though, will get any party started. On the album highlight, jazzy chords and horns pair with a classic vocal and zippy 4/4 beat, beautifully encapsulating the history of footwork's evolution from Chicago house.
01. Smoking Reggie feat. MoonDoctor & Oneohtrix Point Never
02. Smoke Dat Green feat. Taso
03. Lotta A$$ feat. DJ Manny & DJ Taye
04. Fukk It Up feat. DJ Manny & DJ Taye
05. Rachett feat. MoonDoctor & Oneohtrix Point Never
06. Drumatic feat. MoonDoctor
07. Let's Work feat. MoonDoctor & Oneohtrix Point Never
08. All Inn feat. Suzi Analogue