RP Boo - Fingers, Bank Pads & Shoe Prints
Let’s assume the history of footwork — RP Boo is the father of footwork, etc. — and instead focus on the materiality of the genre’s movement. Footwork often inspires a virtuosity of physical movement in dance and is itself virtuosic through its devotion to movement — a perpetual cathartic language occurring between the dance squad and DJ. It has a way of stirring physical and mental states by aggravating internal stress or conflict, gesturing to the release of the psychosomatic by nature of its acceleration. Like plenty of rhythmic music, footwork’s embodiment and function in a physical environment is difficult to abstract from its role in dance, similar to Sissy Nobby’s pioneering work in generating extremely energetic twerking through New Orleans Bounce, or the mid-2000s YouTube craze of hardstyle and the Melbourne Shuffle. Much of the world’s music is tied to physical/spiritual extension — from Sarama music in Muay Thai to power riffs in pro wrestling. Likewise, at its best, footwork focuses on the elevation of psychological and social states through such movement, a sort of spiritual capacity conjured solely through the immanent qualities extending from the motion of its track materials.
Outside of his role as footwork’s historical founder, the legacy of RP Boo is his ability to assume footwork’s physicality and synthesize it with a more mental process; he drives the beat forward as a glistening form of hype meditation music. Not to say it’s purely an internalization of the physical footwork dance. Rather, his style is easily operative as both bodily expression and a more inward gesture — an “eyes-closed” vista where repetition allows for its mantra to provide powerful sensations.
Fingers, Bank Pads & Shoe Prints is his second release out this year on Planet Mu, following the retroactive Classics Vol. 1. The LP functions as a study on what makes a footwork track — the process of putting fingers to bank pad to necessitate foot movement, and the remnant shoe prints that are left behind. Whereas Classics encapsulated RP Boo’s historical legacy, Fingers meditates on process as a present phenomena and practice. The union between focusing on the raw materiality of “track” and its ability to cause pure movement allows the work to simultaneously transcend and embody the continuum he himself created. This isn’t necessarily a celebration of progression; this is footwork in motion, in dialogue with its truest application on the physical dance floor and the mental dance floors that can easily be constructed through its nature. The coarse, grainy echoes of footwork’s soul-specked vibe are punctuated with crisp accents of his Roland R-70 drum-machine, the tool that snaps the snare and skitters hi-hats gloriously over a rolling sub, a tidal motion that pushes everything toward trance.
RP Boo’s freedom of mind can be felt as an invitation into his restorative, shifting orbit. “Kemosabe” samples the end of the famed Straussian motif in “Also sprach Zarathustra,” cutting it over the repeated line “burnin’ them, burnin’ them, burnin’ them right there where you stand.” Kubrick’s galactic drama — the monolith and rising sun that have become synonymous with the theme — can be felt actually burnin’ your mind when the brass blares off in short trails — a dazzling mantra spelling out infinitude in real-time. “Finish Line D’Jayz” picks up with a nonchalant observation — “motherfuck your favorite DJ” — demonstrating that motion is not about persona, but phenomena. Of course, RP Boo’s abstract tendencies are supplemented by careful attention to pacing, as clearly said in “Lets Dance Again,” a suggestion for more movement by switching the rhythm to a 4/4 bounce that’s kept steady with a sultry soul coo slowly fragmented by his signature slice. The seriousness of the album is always attached to a breezy detachment, a mood that “I’m Laughing” conjures perfectly with its cut-up chuckle squirming cyclically, nearly pointing a finger at anyone brooding on the dance floor.
Each track is a sutra on movement articulated with an independent concision that’s difficult to find in most long-form collections of tracks. Sure, they flow into each other naturally and clearly; yet, like meditation, their design allows for the listening experience to be durational in a relative sense — the listener can “check in” to the meditation practice for however long they need the therapy. Perhaps in the most avant of yogic studios, Fingers could be played to soundtrack phased meditation movements: the session would begin seated, eyes closed in a purely mental trance, moving on to where each participant moves one by one to begin the dance — formally and seriously, but not without a sense of humor. It’s a dedicated focus on the materials that compel bodies and minds into motion that make RP Boo a continuously shining light in the ever-growing discourse he helped invent — a celebration of the culture that affirms its genesis, its materiality, its purpose. Like the siren of the “Ice Cream Truck,” the promise is real: ”yo, hold that truck!”