Listening to the same old genres will send you into violent paroxysms of snoring. Don’t let yourself get stuck in a sonic snooze, whether R&B, indie rock, folk rock, freak folk, nü metal or whatever. The best way to experience a new genre is to have someone else gather up the best new songs that fall into that category, slap them on a compilation, and serve it up to you on a platter garnished with parsley and chives. You know what I mean.
Have you heard of ‘footwork’ music? You will know by the time you reach the last track of Escape From Chicago, the first compilation from record label Loose Squares. If you take this compilation as the Bible truth of what footwork music is, the only distinction between footwork and other types of electronic dance music is the insanely hyperactive, twitchy beats. These beats inspire the kind of dancing that makes off-duty EMTs drop what they’re doing and try to ‘assist’ the ‘afflicted’ dancers. Controlled chaos, elegant flailing. Bpms generally hover around 160. This is heart attack music—if you’ve been going heavy on the Quarter Pounders with Cheese, watch your aorta, okay?
On “Freak You,” The 618 brings the buzzy bass and samples the vocal line ”The only one thing I wanna do is freak you” so many times it should be illegal. Atki2 makes stuttering dancehall music with “When Fire Starts.” Dawn Day Night & Emilski use “Invisible Hand” to give the skittery footwork beats a slow-jam R&B spin. Safe to say the title of their track is referring to something a little sexier than Adam Smith’s economic theory.
Footwork has its roots in Chicago, but most of the DJs and producers on the compilation are from elsewhere, hence the titular escape. Pixelord is Russian; Atki2 and Actraiser are from Bristol, and Cardiopusher (see what I meant about the coronaries?) is from Venezuela by way of Barcelona. No matter. The scene is global, even though the beats are local. The songs combine in a hypnotic rhythmic harmony, even if each act stakes out their singularity by their use of different vocal samples, structures and producer tricks. Basically, it’s a compilation that makes total sense.
The best tracks on Escape From Chicago are the ones that best evoke the kind of loopy, dissociative state one enters after too much dancing. “Bring It Back,” by Detroit legend DJ Godfather, brings that state on within a few seconds. The techno groove repeats and repeats again, sounding like the music used to score video games where you race ATVs and speed boats across exotic locations. LV & Mundane have created “Steak Night,” another video game thriller with snares that rat-a-tat in your brain and fluid synth bass notes pouring up and down the musical scale.
The footwork music coming from Loose Squares makes you want to dance with style and abandon. DJs at parties would be wise to add a Pixelord or DJ Godfather track on their next playlist—and to keep a stretcher and defibrillator by the door.