- When a music like juke is as ephemeral as it is—flourishing, in large part, on the internet, far beyond its roots in Chicago's footworking culture—it makes it easier to approach records like this one. We already know that Andrea, AKA the Modern Love label-affiliated Andy Stott, isn't a juke artist. His whole catalog is an exploration of dub techno and its overlap with dubstep. These two tracks, though, are straight-up juke tracks, masters' theses in the beat structures and razor touch of artists like DJ Rashad and DJ Nate (both of whom have recently turned up on Planet Mu, giving most of "bass culture" its first significant contact with the music).
But where a techno artist "turning dubstep" or a dubstepper "going techno" carries all kinds of peripheral baggage linked to scenes and perceived authenticity—essentially, a musical version of identity politics—Andrea's juke turn really can't be taken as anything other than a kind of homage-cum-appropriation. (Even the title of the A-side, "Retail Juke," seems like a kind of self-deprecating joke, an acknowledgment of culture as commodity.)
It helps that the music is stunning. From a formal point of view, he's gotten every element right, no easy task with a music as rhythmically bewildering as juke: the tuned toms, looped vocal shots and triplet hi-hats perfectly embody juke's tumbling cadence. "Retail Juke," in particular, evokes the music's bizarre sense of pacing, marked by a tug-of-war of tempos that plays out across the length of the track. Stott's own signature is evident in rich, expansive sound design—like the chill reverb that swells up around claps and rim shots—and a slightly more linear pulse, with heavy hi-hat action pulling the music away from hip-hop and back towards house.
This isn't house, though. Not by a long shot. Prospective DJs may struggle to find much to mix with these that isn't drum & bass, given the tempo of each, around 160 BPM. But juke only works at that tempo; it's the point at which double-time percussive rhythms seem to slow down, where the brain gets tired of counting and cuts back to half time, to compensate. Here, the overlapping, unquantized rhythms start to sound like a field of lawn sprinklers zapping back and forth, with an effect as soothing as it is manic.
A Retail Juke