Posted on March 3, 2022
FRESH JUICE: City Stars by DJ HANK
Seminal Chicago footwork from DJ HANK, blended effortlessly with the influences of UK garage, ambient, and RnB on City Stars.
Words by Oisín Campbell/ Design by Michael Savage
Buy/ Stream here djhank.bandcamp.com/album/city-stars
Landing on the giant London-based label Hyperdub, DJ HANK finds himself in fine company with alumni including Burial, Proc Fiskal, Lorraine James, and Kode9 to name but a handful. Hailing from North Carolina, Hank repositioned himself to Chicago aged 18 where he became immersed in the city's vibrant footwork scene. There he frequented the city's footwork battle nights, most notably the Battlegroundz affair, which in turn led to a push towards the production end of things.
Over the last number of years Hank has developed a following for his ear-catching footwork/ UKG hybrids, leading to his tracks featuring consistently in Kode9 sets and even receiving playtime on Kode9 and Burial's mix for Mary Anne Hobbs in 2018.
Now landing on Hyperdub, the Windy City based artist has immersed himself in an ambient, RnB infused collection of footwork steppers. 'Lift Gate' opens up the City Stars release with hazy chimes that fall into colorful strings and quickfire drum patterns, drifting us into the creative mind of DJ HANK and his footwork prowess.
Lead single 'Stay' serves up an engrossing vocal sample that unfolds over rumbling bass lines and a pacing footwork step, setting up an exquisite club friendly yet down to earth and humbling sound.
Lending a hand from a familiar sample used by the Overmono crew, 'Get @ Me' melds angelic keys with a hyper-charged trap rhythm that typifies the effortless crossover Hank creates within ambient and more rigid club sounds.
Riveting RnB vocal samples reemerge on the more percussive led 'Air Ride'. This trickles effortlessly into the 80's Japanese ambient inspired 'Kiosko', which too finds its feet with the intelligent drum patterns amassed by DJ HANK.
'Mkwa' on the close once more fuses a soothing retro-ambient sound filled with marimbas and bells which are accompanied by more erotic RnB vocals, catching its feet at the expected 160 range.
An obsessive combination of sounds, 'City Stars' questions where club music can twist and turn and tests how multi-dimensional it can be. DJ HANK does this with such facile delivery, blending the sounds almost hypnotically and leaving you at peace with the world momentarily. At the same it's completely danceable with it's fast-paced footwork rhythms, leaving a great desire to hear the music out.
A triumph from DJ HANK and he finds himself in deservedly fitting company amongst the Hyperdub family.
Discover more of DJ HANK's sounds here djhank.bandcamp.com/