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DJ Paypal
Sold Out Josh Gray , November 16th, 2015 15:49

Given that he's the kind of guy who releases 30 Drake remixes at a time, opens sets with Mario Kart themes and drapes a t-shirt over his face when he performs, DJ Paypal must have seemed like a match made in heaven for the Flying Lotus-helmed Brainfeeder label. The part-musician, part-troll has spent the last decade or so helping Teklife (the loose assembly of footwork producers and performers that emerged from the early 00s Chicago ice-rink dance fight scene) rise to international prominence, while simultaneously building an alluring individual presence of utter anonymity on the internet. On his marginally ironically titled debut Sold Out, Paypal continues to operate as both an individual and part of the wider global movement of footwork. The first four tracks show off the mysterious Berliner's auteurish mixing abilities alone, while the second half of the album sees him open up the studio to longtime collaborators such as Teklife's DJ Earl and Taye.

This combination gives Sold Out the impression of throwing a happy nod to the scene that spawned it while keeping its gaze firmly fixed on the future of the genre. Like DJ Spinn and the sadly deceased Rashad before him, Paypal is adept at tractor-beaming the disparate genres of soul, jazz and disco into the accelerated house core and bending them into evermore strange and beguiling shapes. Perhaps the most breathtaking of these moments comes early on 'Ahhhhhh', which begins with the kind of laid back lounge you might find in the foyer of a particularly glitzy Las Vegas hotel, complete with blissed-out piano and soft horns. Then DJ Paypal takes a wrench to the track, pummelling these bare bones into an 100mph glitch-hop mindfuck that sets the scene for frenetic swerving in style that defines the rest of the album.

His veiled identity, combined with the album's constant attempts to pull the rug from under the listener's feet, combine to give DJ Paypal the image of a particularly mischievous spirit. He's the Pan of electronica, the Caliban of disco, the footwork Peeves – flitting between the desire to enchant and the compulsion to terrify. 'Slim Trak' is definitely an occasion where the latter of these two aims trumps the former. Its smattering of disembodied, unintelligible voices provides the listener with the unsettling impression that the track is chasing them, toying with its food like a hungry ghoul. Shades of The Herbaliser's Something Wicked This Way Comes abound, and the sensation that there's some kind of malevolent presence woven through the eight songs that make up Sold Out never fully escapes you.

Part of what sets teeth on edge while listening to the album is DJ Paypal's knack for a scattershot beat. His drum loops rarely repeat themselves the same way, clicking and shifting like a swarm of eager scorpions. At times this overpowers the surrounding synth swells and guest spots, and often what starts as footwork music ends up sounding more like tap. Even on the album's most (aka only) subdued moment, luscious closer 'Say Goodbye', the snare clatter never truly subsides. But that's just the Teklife mindset; at least no-one can say that Paypal ever forgets to make music that will make your feet work for it. And, overall, the album's main failing is actually its brevity. Whoever DJ PayPal is, he's clearly got some time management issues if he can remix three times as many Drake tracks as there are songs on his debut album.