The last few years have seen Chicago Footwork rise to international success, and Traxman’s debut album - ‘The Mind of Traxman’ on Planet Mu - played no small part in that. It showcased Cornelius Ferguson’s brilliant ability to synthesise the beat digging of classic hip hop with the high-speed abstraction of Footwork’s house-derived beat science.
The selection of tracks on this second chapter show a slightly different take on Traxman's abilities. Instead of bringing in concepts from other genres, he simply creates a wider variety of Footwork, made with a minimal, reduced palette. Often just one or two samples are selected and diced into brain-blurring cubist puzzles that bear little relation to their original sources, or anything else for that matter.
A number of the tracks here show off the high-speed micro-edited possibilities of Footwork, that end up bringing the sound closer to a faster, hands-on, mpc-punched version of micro-house, bringing out a jagged, fitful character that keeps you on your toes. Tracks like ‘Time Slip’ echo SND, but cut with hip hop breaks and flying snares, while ‘Blow Your Whistle (Tha Out Of Here Remixx)’ chops up a short vocal and whistle noise to ridiculously energetic effect. Other tracks pull on a techno edge, ‘Computer Getto’s galloping game of hide and seek with Kraftwerk, ‘Bubbles‘ electronic arcade game blips, or ‘Under Cover Jack‘s 303 groove, remind one of the house origins of this music, while ‘Can Nutin Hold Me Back’ has a leg in soul’s history, with its detached accapella chopped into twitchy choruses. Later on ‘15146’ cuts up barked numbers over sprightly woodwind while ‘Gone and Hit that Shit’ reduces words to rhythmic shapes, darting around meaning. ‘The Edge of Panic’ is an unexpected and incredibly aggressive detour into Footwork x Speed Metal that could be a micro-genre of its own. We catch our breath with ‘I Wanna Be High’ before the album ends with the gentle bass and chopped jazz drums of ‘U Got Me Running (Remixx)’. The mind of Traxman dazzles again.
Traxman, a.k.a. Corky Strong, real name Cornelius Ferguson, is a Chicago Footwork veteran whose discography also includes many classic Ghetto House and Juke releases going as far back as the mid '90s with music on labels like the legendary Dance Mania. He's worked as a DJ for over three decades and was a member of the Geto DJz and Ghetto Teknitianz crews alongside two other Footwork scene leaders, DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn. He describes his style as "funky, soulful and a bit eccentric."