- I've been waiting over a year for DJ JM's first EP to drop. The first I heard from the Lithuanian producer was his mix for The Astral Plane, a 45-minute tour de force of almost entirely original tunes (most of which are still sitting on his hard drive). It was one of 2016's most interesting mixes, staking out a singular approach to club music that owes as much to UK funky and South African gqom as it does to tribal house. All these styles emphasise big, in-your-face percussive grooves, and that's exactly what makes Cosa Nostra work.
When it comes to stripped-back drum tools, every element has to be perfect. Not only does each sample have to stand out, but the levels and the compression must be finessed. DJ JM nails the technical aspect—the snares pack a wallop and the kick drums sink into the lower registers. The reverb is applied with a soft touch, which makes the drums feel alive without ruining the hard contours that make them smack. Over six minutes, "Rainee" barely adds or subtracts anything from the simple hand drum loop that forms its backbone, but the groove is so compelling that the energy never flags. Occasionally he introduces a shaker or a conga pattern, creating a subtle shift that rewires the rhythm.
"Cosa Nostra" is busier in terms of its arrangement, though not by much. He keeps it lively by peppering the drum track with effects and buzzing ambience, brief interjections that drift away as quickly as they appear. "Interjail," the EP's standout track, recalls Lil Silva's best material, but with extra layers of interlocking syncopations that create depth and complexity. On "Swatch" DJ JM shows us his skill for pacing, with structural shifts that hit at exactly the right moment, infusing the track with new energy at every turn. Cosa Nostra is a formidable debut from a producer who may be one of this year's breakthrough artists, especially given the stockpile of dubs he's sitting on.
04. Cosa Nostra