LAURA JONES was a new name to this writer when her appearance at the "Futured" series of DJ gigs at Julep was announced; yet when her gig took place on Thursday night, she was greeted by fans who knew her stuff well and loved her for it. She lived up to all of that love, and then some -- it converted this writer too. Listening to Jones' tracks at Beatport, I found them, with the exception of Maceo Plex's remix of her "Love In Me," to be dry and samey, nothing I much cared to play again. At Julep, however, her sound had heft right from the start, and it had the murmur of melody and a touch of soft, almost disco-girl voices. It was cute music up top and big-legged rhythm underneath. And it was mixed to the hilt, on two CD players, two Traktor-program vinyl 12-inch discs, and two mixboards.
Jones, according to what I was told, has only been Ding for five or six years (and, so I was also informed, is losing her sight). Usually it takes twice as long, at least, to fully digest into one's own sound the almost borderless possibilities of house music instrumentation, but at Julep Jones dropped a sound very much her own and had complete control of it. Tracks of her own making, such as "Inner Place," "Movements In Soul," and "Playdo," that listened to on home earphones felt uniformly thin up top and didn't hit hard down low, now hit harder than hard, which emboldened and made sense of their soft tops.
Now one understood her use of disco-girl voices (and some cowbell percussion surely lifted from Lipps, Inc.'s 1979 favorite "Funkytown"). Live, with the magnification that four systems give to a sound block, her evocations of '90s UK "garage" -- house music of a very delicate, jazzy air, with short, jabbing beats supporting soul to "fusion" jazz voices -- didn't sound like worn down tape decks. She played her own best liked tracks and what sounded like others from Plex, whose lush magnifications made "Love In Me" Jones's top-download track at Beatport and which she fully infused into her Julep set. She has recorded for the well-respected Visionquest label -- whose roster includes Plex, of course, as well as deep house masters Guy Gerber and Lee Curtiss and tech-house creators Uner and Tale of Us -- and it was that sound which, infused with her looks back at past dance music, she dropped seductively onto very appreciative house heads at Julep.
Her sound kept folks guessing and on edge, never able to anticipate the story she was telling, of yesterdays remembered that were, she proved, still somehow inside one's soul, and of tomorrows which, she made clear, can't fully take over one's taste buds no matter how luscious they feel in the moment. Riding at an almost wistful 124 BPM, she took the music back and forth, and even both back and forth at the same time, as finely felt overlay mixes can conjure. How a mix is felt is essential to how a DJ creates his or her story on screen, as it were. Jones mixed in both classic, '90s house music fashion and the trippy sound effect methods favored today and so made the past versus tomorrow her format as well as her texture.
Her mix style featured strong smooth dissolves from one track to another, powerfully placed monologues, sampling to make the old feel even older, and some choppy beat stretches that only emphasized the sublime feel of her dissolve mixes. As for "Love In Me" and its effect on her entire set, its sound came again and again, in free and loose rhythm runs surrendering to the most intense squeeze mixes this writer has heard -- "pressure builds" in DJ parlance -- that exploded into big beats, lush with murmur.
A body, soul, and spirit thing. Her fans loved it. Many joined her in the DJ booth. The set did not at all want ever to end.