Ben Grenrock lives at Berghain.
Far too much of my life has been spent in smoky clubs from Brooklyn to Berlin to Buenos Aires, pretending to enjoy house music. Where was Jitwam’s EP, TJD006 then? Had the burgeoning producer from Manipur, India dropped his new release before I’d been dragged along on those tedious nights out, had the clubs’ DJs possessed the presence of mind to spin it, I’d have passed less of my time loitering in the smoking section waiting for my friends’ Ketamine highs to melt from the dance-phase to the puddle-phase. More of it would have been spent dancing along with them. Now here I am alone in my bedroom grooving up a belated storm. Better late than never.
Jitwam’s new EP, released via TheJazzDiaries, doesn’t waste any time getting itself ready for the party. The moment you hit play, its first track, “whereyougonnago?,” erupts like monsoon rains from clouds of evaporated funk and disco. Though these common influencers of dance-music precipitate the deluge, they aren’t exactly what you feel moistening your skin. The rapid bursts of two piano chords—one high and sweet, one low and menacing—straddle the barrier between dark and light to create something fresh and electric.
Into this liminal space, Jitwam pours his silky vocals. They reach the listener as delicately as truncated droplets. The resultant track is so mesmerizing, so hypnotically head-noddable, that the question Jitwam raises of “where you gonna go?” becomes irrelevant. If you’re wherever this track is playing, you’re not going anywhere.
“whereyougonnago?” starts TJD006 off at the apex of the night’s action. The only way to go from there is down. But just as many nights out become increasingly interesting the more distance you put between yourself and speakers blasting at conversation-cancelling volumes, when Jitwam leads you off the dance floor his record only gets more intoxicating. Into the mists of dawn, refracted through steam rising off overheated flesh, “yyy.” casts an intriguing, flickering radiance. Its inebriated bass wobbles under hip-hop drums so tightly clenched they’ll be sore the next morning. The resultant track sounds like it would be more at home leaking onto N. Broadway out of L.A.’s Low End Theory than wafting into the Bushwick sky from a Sublimate event.
The dexterity on display across these two tracks deepens with “JIT23”’s unsteady two-step. The song walks the line between the sounds of its two predecessors—but it’s not passing any sobriety tests. Jitwam lets his vocals take a more central role on “JIT23,” his voice like fine sand polishing away the night’s haze. Events transpired and decisions made begin to take shape and are looked at askance in the light of day, while every successive clap hit marks a step towards home. “U” puts us to bed and tucks us in. The bizarre mixture of relief and regret, comfort and tension is unmistakable. Somewhere in the ambient whorls is the specter of sleep, just out of reach—until finally, definitively, it’s not.
TJD006 is a banger for the club or for the bedroom. The young producer is not only versatile, but when he makes clear choices as to the direction he wants a track to go, he executes them with a simple grace. There’s no longer a reason not to dance. There’s no longer a reason not to listen. If, “Silence is a mystery” as Jitwam croons on “JIT23”, with TDJ006 he may have found the answer.