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Juke With It: Kool Switch Works’ Witchcraft EP

A few days ago, Luke Carrell of International Tapes tweeted about how impressed he was by the electronic music coming out of Japan’s various DIY communities. Well, here’s yet another scene popping out of the digital ether to keep tabs on. Kool Switch Works’ just released something called the Witchcraft EP, which comes with the subtitle “Made in Nippon electric juke & footwork compilation.” It’s not a definitive glance into this skittery world – see this Japan Times’ article, which features a bunch of juke artists not on this comp – but rather a solid primer into this world. And, all “gateway to” talk dropped, has some solid jams on it.

Juke and footwork both rely on high BPMs and brief samples whipped out to the maximum. This NPR documentary sums it up. Withcraft stays mostly loyal to juke and footwork’s roots – see Poncho and Casino Tart’s “Bad Job” which is the most “standard” track here, although it is still better than the plodding “howyoufeel” courtesy of DJ SAUCEMAN – but the highlights of the compilation aren’t afraid to stretch a little bit outside of their comfort zones. Exccow’s “Yey 35” tones the manicness down a bit, letting the synths morph over the course of the song, making it the subtlest number on this album. bbbbb, meanwhile, skips vocal samples to the extreme, to the point where there are times you think the files you downloaded might actually be damaged. Nope, they are just hyperspliced and deeply enjoyable. The best moments on Witchcraft come from PICNICWOMEN, who shows the closest thing to song structure on their two tracks. “We Need Love” evolves from slow jam into lightspeed juke, while “Night Summer” goes from something that should be played over an episode of Fantasy Island to a vaguely dirty thrust-a-thon. Get the EP here, or listen below.