Traxman - Da Mind Of Traxman Vol 2 (3 stars)

Traxman - Da Mind Of Traxman Vol 2

A cohesive and energetic compendium of unique footwork electronica tracks

Footwork is in mourning. The Chicago dance genre, which mutated out of ghettotech and juke into a spartan, frenetic and thrilling accompaniment to footwork dance-offs, lost one of its major driving forces, and probably its most recognised face, in DJ Rashad at the end of April. What really sucks about his death at the age of just 34 is that footwork is a relatively small scene, albeit one with a global reach. Not only was Rashad one of the genre's most forward-thinking craftsmen, he was also probably one of only a handful of Chicago footwork DJs who could tour and gig in this side of the world, such is the genre’s relative infancy and small but hardened fan base. Others on that list would be RP Boo, Rashad’s long time associate DJ Spinn, and Traxman.

Chicagoan Cornelius Ferguson has been part of the underground dance music scene long enough to have taken a route through ghetto house and juke before becoming a leading exponent of footwork. This, his second album on Planet Mu – a label that pretty much brought footwork out of Chicago to this part of the world – offers a timely reminder of the genre’s pulsating charms. The BPMs are high, the samples are judicious, that minimal, staccato footwork groove is as beguiling as ever. Just as he did previously on Vol 1, Traxman nuzzles into his own fluent rhythm, eschewing footworks' grittier textures for dynamism, compositional flair and a tincture of risk taking. The record throws up a cohesive and energetic gamut of tracks, made by a man clearly at ease with his skill set. What it lacks in crossover appeal it comfortably makes up for in technical brilliance and craftsmanship.

Footwork’s allure will remain somewhat enigmatic to those outside its loyal church of followers and Traxman’s record will not change much in that regard. What it is, though, is a solid reaffirmation of what footwork is about and why it will survive and thrive beyond its current period of reflection.

Out now on Planet Mu.

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