After an on-again-off-again relationship with producing some of Chicago’s most forward-thinking footwork/juke, in addition to holding down day jobs working as an oil refinery chemical engineer and a cat scan technician, producer Jana Rush finally returns with her second LP Painful Enlightenment — and it’s even more than we could’ve hoped for. Disturbing, challenging and completely groundbreaking; this record is like a Rorschach test for the listener, inviting myriad approaches and viewpoints.
The drum pads come at you with frenetic precision as is to be extended from footwork, but the distinguishing factor of Painful Enlightenment is Rush’s bold use of samples and avant-garde sense of pace, which inspire both beauty and discomfort in equal measure. The chopped up free jazz sax snippets of ‘Moanin’’ are fearsome and bludgeoning, while the orgiastic wails of ‘G-Spot’ (which must be heard to be believed) and the strangely violent beat-‘em-up yelps of epic 9-minute endurance run ‘Suicidal Ideation’ turn the sexual bravado of ghetto tech firmly on its head, finding untold tenderness in the profane, and unspeakable horrors in the quotidian.
For all its layers, Painful Enlightenment is a remarkably joyous record about overcoming personal struggle. It’s testimony to Rush’s extraordinary sensibilities that it also happens to sound like a milestone of footwork — if not electronic music itself.