To put it simply, there is little I can say about this premier Chicago DJ that her resume doesn’t say for me. A regular fixture at Aboveground, Primary, Spybar, and the underground SSS, Amy cuts an accessible path through the Chicago dance scene. Unland is also signed to both Evoked and Worldwide Exclusive records. Not a freshman DJ by any stretch and very easy for the Chicago listener to catch, she is also one third of the musical collective known as Dirty Dish alongside her fellow musicians Romasoul and Lesprite.
Although she borrows from many styles, Unland’s efforts primarily fall into Techno and Tech House. Many of her tracks tantalize the listener as they flirt with transforming into a Jungle or Minimal mix, but are always pulled back from the precipice.
Several mixes reside in a dark half-way house between Minimal and Techno styles; not fully committing to either genre. Where a mix in the Minimal style leaves a distinctly shiny impression on the listener, Unland manages to affect something closer to a matte finish by consistently distorting vocal samples and blunting the tinnier aspects of her synth loops. The overall effect is of a Minimal build bursting into the room, screwed up on sizzurp, and being promptly escorted out again.
Unland’s more memorable efforts tend to work with thicker bass sounds. In her track “So Much” the listener finds himself wrapped in a comforting blanket of bass while being coerced into motion with industrially manipulated vocal tracks. Dirty bass lines on marimba machines add a distinctly latin flavor to “Escape” which manages to take a slow stroll at the edge of Jungle. Thankfully the track stays slow and dark avoiding the hyperactive slog Jungle can become.
Her more recent work is decidedly Tech. Even in this formulaic genre, atypical genre elements are in play. Several of her sets begin with decidedly funky intos to lure in unsuspecting the House listeners, and gradually locks them to the floor with the regimented Tech sound that is so hard to resist once you’re in it.
Her mixes and tracks end with trademark abruptness, but like an Irish Goodbye, it’s the best way to end when you don’t want to say farewell to begin with.
Those lucky enough be in Playa, Mexico this week can catch her set at the Coco Maya Beach Club on January 12. Can’t make it? The event, put on by the kind folks at Unlisted, features a live video stream that will be broadcast on the hompeage of Onlythebeat.com