The internet is good for a lot of things; culling time when you’re at home with your parents over Christmas is undoubtedly one. This usually means being sucked into a click-through vortex which, after a vertiginous spiral into the trivial and banal, eventually pops you out the other side in the realm of abstract esoterica, furnishing the burnt-out brain with a bunch of facts (and fictions) which then largely evaporate when you have a kip or, I dunno, go outside.
I discovered this compilation from 1994 while embarking on a post-midnight quest into jungle tekno—the earliest proto drum’n'bass that kicked around before the name was shortened to jungle. I, of course, bought it. It’s subtitled “Intelligence + Technology” —pretty much the core mantra of these pioneering beat-chemists; the oh-so-period cover art makes plain just how much they were huffing Detroit’s space-age output alongside the overt Jamaican influences that would separate these renagades from the rest of the hardcore/ardkore pack. It’s a history lesson from a particularly fecund and experimental period in British electronic music (note the ardkore “K” in techno). Anyone into the dry, percussive minimalism of Hessle Audio or Livity Sound or was intrigued by Lee Gamble‘s experiment in jungle excavation Diversions 1994 – 96 would do well to explore this point in history. Yes, often the breakbeats feel feathery and thin, the synth pads often spring from the most cursory one-finger motif; but there’s something genuinely magnetic about these tracks. They sound so brittle and percussive, especially in the age of steroidal digital compression, and the timestretched vocals sound just like they sounded in ’94 when I was at school: damn cool. Sadly, I can’t find much info on the label Jumpin’ and Pumpin’, which put out a series of these compilations documenting the rapid changes and divergent factions of the sound that would come to be known as jungle. It has, like many of the artists featured here, disappeared into the ether—even if their influence didn’t.
Head over to Discogs to pick up the CD for around the 8 euro point.
You can find all previous editions of Kaufen here.