Jay Daniel, Broken Knowz (2016)

Jay Daniel, the Michigan-born electronic musician/drummer/DJ, humbly pays respect to the early Detroit artists that paved the way, and brings something new to the table with his first full length LP, Broken Knowz (Ninja Tune, 2016).

Daniel’s latest release, Broken Knowz is at times many things– a resonant soundscape, a syncopated sojourn, and a cacophony of global percussion working both in and around genre lines. Broken Knowz urges the listener to redefine what house music should be and how it should sound. But it lacks a necessary cohesion.

Raised in Detroit by his mother, the famous house vocalist Naomi Daniel, Jay Daniel was exposed to the world of electronic music at an early age. But not until moving to Maryland with his father did he discover his passion for drumming.

Daniel effortlessly interweaves funk rhythms, diverse driving percussion, clean production, and rich synth tones, into Broken Knowz, with live drums to boot. Yet the album reads more like a compilation of songs, with each track strikingly different from the last. While this does give Daniel leeway to experiment in different forms throughout the record, it also makes it hard to pin down thematically.

“Paradise Valley” evokes a sense of jazz-inspired dreaminess, nursed by modulated Rhodes chords, a subdued bassline, and a simple but persistent rim-tapped clave pattern. “Niiko” brings the percussion to the forefront, with booming low-end bass drum hits and precision timed go-go bells, almost give the feeling of a fire-side ceremonial dance.

Broken Knowz is a solid addition to the ever-expanding, eclectic collection of Detroit house music, this will not be the last we hear of Jay Daniel.

Stand Out Tracks: “Paradise Valley”, “Niiko”, “Squeaky Maya”, “Boolin”, “Yemaya”

FFO: Shigeto, Bibio, Project Pablo, Bonobo

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Author: Graham S. Bly

Multimedia Journalist, Filmmaker, Bathroom Reader, Part-Time Crossword Solver, Full-Time Cyclist

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