Ron Maney is one of the good guys in this business, and it’s a nice thing when good guys also make music that can overload your central nervous system for kicks. Under the name DJ Skull he’s now dominated the scene for aficionados of his fine blend of Chicago tracks and techno, first with Djax in the ’90s and now with records on labels like Chiwax and D’Julz’s imprint Bass Culture, which released his Powered Funk EP in the fall of 2018.

“Country Air” could be considered Skull’s take on jazz – a hectic, kinetic and utterly peculiar strain of jazz, overwhelmed by steely percussion and a haunting hook. It’s the title track of the Country Air EP, a 12″ on Shift Imprint. What I’ve always loved about Skull’s records is that everything can and may be sacrificed for the groove – that hip-swinging howl of soul that emerges like a shape in a cloud of smoke in most DJ Skull tracks, no matter how manic the beat. On Country Air he fishes sounds out of a celestial sample library, crafting hooks and those signature grooves out common sounds from every day life. “Maestro” could have been a co-production with Ron Trent; “Triumph” has the dense textures and devastating bass pumping underneath it of an unearthed Chicago classic – Sadar editing Gene Farris producing Lil Louis, or something. Country Air is heavy with Chicago house like that. It’s seething with it.

DJ Skull: Country Air EP / Shift Imprint
A1. DJ Skull: “Country Air”
A2. DJ Skull: “Difficult Dayz”
B1. DJ Skull: “Maestro”
B2. DJ Skull: “Triumph”



Techno, UFOs and Legends of the Chicago Underground: First published inside #5Mag169 with Ellen Allien, Nachtbraker, Kelly G, news from NAMM & more. Help support 5 Mag by becoming a member for just $1 per issue.