Last Saturday while driving (and recovering) from the bass and BPM attack that was Jukefest 2011, I could not resist the urge to further punish my inner ears by blasting the big new “Look to the Sky” EP from two of Chicago’s finest juke masters, the internationally acclaimed DJ Rashad and the often slept-on Boylan. This newest release for Chicago’s “best white juke producer” on the Juke Trax label marks Boylan’s second album of the summer, following his “Mystery” EP on Ghettophiles.
Now, for those unfamiliar with juke, a genre with an incredibly strong local identity, I’ll defer giving my own account in favor of passing you on to a blog run by Dave Quam, a Chicagoan with a deep knowledge and love for juke, where you can find a wealth of history and tracks. What I will say, however, is this: juke will move you. Combining a feverish pace pushing, at times, 160 beats per minute with rumbling 808s, off-the-wall claps, snares and toms and samples that will give you chills (Boylan’s reworking of Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold”), it seems that the world epicenter of dance music has once again recombined its musical DNA giving birth to something completely new and wonderful.
Moving back to our man, Boylan, it seems that summer is his time to shine – what with being a full time school teacher and all – and with both these EP’s he is downright blinding. Starting with the earlier four track “Mystery EP,” Boylan delivers a blistering feel good jam, and my top track, with “I Love Music” featuring another fixture of Chicago’s juke/ghetto house scene, DJ Clent. With the next tracks, “LB Work” and the titular “Mystery,” Boylan shows off his ability to keep up the energy within his immersive spaced-out and futuristic atmospheres. And finally on “Noiz Factory” he tips his hat to the history of house music with a sample from Sound Factory’s 1992 classic “Understand This Groove.”
On the more recent “Look to the Sky,” Boylan and Rashad co-produced two of the tracks and then each contributed two solo efforts, giving room for both to push their unique sound while still letting their geniuses compound each other. My favorite track of the entire album hands down goes to Boylan’s “Hands.” I may be a sucker for these reworked soul samples, but goddam, this track is unreal. Effortlessly fitting orchestral hits over unrelenting 808s punctuated with gritty, dated female vocals makes Boylan one of the producers to look for in the future for all your booty-werkin needs.
Check out some of his track on youtube (include “juke” and the searches become way more relevant) and buy his releases here. Now for a taste…