Greenlight is all about sparseness and simplicity. Apart from a few vocal loops and the occasional breakbeat, it doesn't have a lot of samples, unlike other notable footwork albums from the last year, like DJ Earl's Open Your Eyes or Jana Rush's Pariah. He opts instead for precise drum programming and clever synth lines. Even when collaborating with other producers, the tracks here never deviate far from a highly concentrated sound built on raw textures, intense bass pressure and highly advanced rhythms. "Ghost Out," in particular, channels the startlingly physical low-end reminiscent of early dubstep; it even has the uneasy suspense that made that music so powerful.
The unruly synth line on "If U Want It" could be Kode9 or Ikonika, though it's filtered through the influence of DJ Rashad's computerized soul. Of all the footwork albums that have come out in the three years since he passed away, Greenlight may be the one that best captures the former scene leader's spirit. Like Rashad, Manny balances subtle sophistication with a sense of humor, which comes across in the tracks' silly, sometimes suggestive vocal chants. DJ Manny's not as flashy as someone like RP Boo, or as unusual as Jlin. His approach instead applies smart flourishes to the footwork blueprint.
The other thing he seems to have inherited from DJ Rashad is his adventurous ear. The album opens with a couple of soulful tracks, "Way You Move" and "You Lookin Good," which are all about sweet melodies and gentle synth chords. But then a kind of unhinged dissonance starts to set in with "Zancrash," featuring DJ Taye, which busts out of the gate with an evil pocket calculator melody layered over an air raid siren. It keeps spiraling steadily in that direction, stirring up a feverish, loopy frenzy of vocal quips and alien sounds. The last two tracks, both agitated and boastful, capture the intensely focused energy of two footwork dancers trying to best each other. By the end of Greenlight we've seen a few different sides of DJ Manny, which makes it a nice introduction to an artist who's long deserved his shot at the spotlight.
Fri / 6 Oct 2017
01. Way You Move feat. DJ Chap
02. You Looking Good feat. Sucia
03. Like That
04. Zancrash feat. DJ Taye
05. Boop Me Down feat. DJ Lucky
06. Ghost Out
07. I'll Hurt Ya Baby feat. DJ Lucky & DJ Taye
08. Life In This Bitch feat. DJ Taye
09. If U Want It feat. DJ Taye
10. Greenlight Wanna Go feat. DJ Taye