Lee Gamble and Robin Mackay’s Guide to Jungle

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An experimental producer and a philosopher compare some of their favorite '90s-era jungle tracks and mixes, from Goldie to Randall and LTJ Burkem.

Earlier this year, EB hosted a conversation between jungle deconstructionist and PAN label affiliate Lee Gamble and Robin Mackay, founder of the Urbanomic publishing house. Their guide to jungle tracks and mixes is selected from a longer transcript and was partially included in the Spring 2015 issue of Electronic Beats Magazine.

Robin Mackay: Music can really stretch your perceptions—that’s what I loved about abstract drum ‘n’ bass. I had moments of total wonder and couldn’t comprehend what I was hearing.

Razor’s Edge Stonekiller Remix

Some of the Penny Black 12″s and the tracks on the Metalheadz imprint Razor’s Edge still sound magnificent, especially the way they stretched and folded sounds to more complex levels. In mathematics, there’s something called the “baker’s transformation,” which is about stretching and folding a square into an infinitely chaotic volume.

Goldie – “Dark Metal (Source Direct Remix)”

What’s especially delicious about Razor’s Edge tracks like this one is that a lot of them still use the classic Metalheadz sound bank, which is about ten sounds used over and over, but they morph every time.

Nasty Habits – “Shadow Boxing”

I remember hearing Doc Scott’s “Shadow Boxing” for the first time at a night in Coventry in 1996. It was like someone had rotated the whole form into something new. Unfortunately for me —and this is just another part of the whole process—that was also the moment when drum ‘n’ bass started going down a very unfortunate road. It got more metronomic and repressed, and it never came out the other side. The same thing happened with dubstep. You can hear it in the 2011 “Shadow Boxing” remix; everything got solidified into rigid aggression.

Lee Gamble: A lot of the jungle labels and producers of that period had a sound or used a particular set of sounds. I think of labels like Ibiza Records, Certificate 18, Legend Records and Reinforced, artists like Photek, Tom & Jerry, the Bristol axis with V records, Blame & Justice’s Icons project,  Basement and Ganja. Jungle seemed to accelerate this approach like nothing else and chewed stuff up until it disintegrated over only a few short years. In a way, some of those sounds are therefore glued to a specific period of time. Sonically, it will always align itself with the radio for me. Some Tom & Jerry 12”s sound like the radio, the samples within them sound like the radio, and they overall sound like the radio. Some collage of stuff that’s out there, future news, history, disembodied voices, clashed together. It’s future-past reportage of some kind.

You’ve listed some tracks here Robin, so here’s a few mixes which contain plenty that flipped me out at the time. It’s also a simple attempt to map the developments, variations and change in sound from 1992 through1997.

Fabio & Grooverider at Universe (1992)

LTJ Bukem at Dreamscape (1993)

DJ Ron at Roast (1994)

Randall at Pure X (1996)

Ed Rush & Trace – No U Turn Experience (1997)

Click here to read more from the Spring 2015 issue. 

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