There has been something undeniably genuine about the rise of Jackmaster. The past few years have seen the Glaswegian take on a supreme (and burdensome) ‘party boy’ status in a remarkably dignified manner. For his so-called “troops”, he has become a beloved embodiment of exactly what they want dance music to be about: total uproar, raucous energy, and having a really loose time with your pals. It would be easy to become overly macho and crass in such a position, but somehow the self-effacing Numbers co-founder’s frenzied shenanigans come across in such good nature that you can’t help but crack a smile as Jasper James unzips him from a travel case at an afterparty, or as he drops “Zorba the Greek” in a Skream b2b to a crowd screaming, “Taps aff!”
Rowdiness with restraint is a difficult balance to maintain. And it’s carried quite brilliantly once again by the Scot in his pensive edition of DJ-Kicks. Behind the Buckfast-swilling facade we are allowed to witness a more sensitive and thoughtful side to the DJ. Much of the mix is lent to new releases such as those of Tessela, Eliphino and Denis Sulta (the Sulta one does just about live up to the hype) and yet the real strength of Jackmaster’s choices are found in picks from the past – his past.
The project seemed destined to be a reflective endeavour from the very beginning. After a tragically misplaced record bag in a Miami cab, Jackmaster found himself going back to scratch in Glasgow. He returned to his old flat. Then he dove into his old record collection and unearthed some of the forgotten gems that helped him pave his way to the very top.
As such, the mix is chock-full of what we can presume are Rubadub relics from his time working in the Glasgow store as a teenager – a job he took on not for money, but for pay in records, along with a priceless, encyclopedic knowledge of rare Chicago, Detroit and New York imports. “It’s a tribute,” he admits, and as the first part of the mix swells towards 1990 Mike Dunn hard-hitter “A Groove”, there’s a real sense of the respect and recognition he holds for these artists that inspired his style. You can almost feel the excitement and wonder of a young teenager having his life changed by hearing the sound of Chicago for the first time.
In a similar vein, the inclusion of a uniquely dirty electro track named “Deep Acoustic” from Lory D – an Italian techno producer that Jack hailed from an early age – is honored as much as to take centre stage in the 80-minute mix. It appears with such boldness it that seems as if Jack is proudly showing us some of the very foundations for which he has built his musical standards. Later on, a rare Robert Hood track appears in the same manner, and is used to set up a hectic Detroit techno finale in the form of exceptionally fun 1992 number “Convulsions” by Overmow that, like practically every throwback choice, appears remarkably contemporary.
There are no strange detours to be found here. There is nothing particularly unexpected, or indulgent as in previous DJ-Kicks like those of DJ Koze or Moodymann – just a solid array of quality house and techno from a talented, humble Glaswegian’s record shelf. But that’s what’s nice about it. Jackmaster gives an honest and proud tour through the realms of his privileged electronic music experience – an experience that we come to realise he genuinely thankful for.
Words by Alex Rigby.