Sunday, 9 November 2008

The ruff guide to intelligent jungle part 2 - DJs

More from our mistery author...

Those were the tunes, then.  Hope you've enjoyed checking out further links and maybe found some surprises too :-)
But Drum n Bass was never just about the tunes.  What about the DJs?

Fabio, LTJ Bukem and Goldie playing classic oldskool intelligent on Radio1Extra Live from the Ministry of Sound 30/12/07

[A very big download, it's true;  i can't get the streaming to work, but maybe you can.]
I don't want to chat tunes.  Some of them I've already highlighted;  the vast majority of them were considered for inclusion in my guide and many were missed out solely because they only really work within the context of the mix -- Bukem in particular rinses some superb selection and maintains a fasinating groove, like he doesn't play oldskool as much as he should!  But I'd like to highlight how these 3 DJs represent different strands in the story.  Again, this isn't my favourite mix, far from it, but it does show how it all fits together.  Don't bother with the last half hour, what's it got to do with anything?  Is it maybe Fabio in the mix?  Well it's shit don't bother.

0 - 32 min  Fabio
Without any exageration, Fabio helped invent DnB/Jungle with porn smuggler Grooverider with their night Rage at Heaven providing the blueprint for the development of the scene as early as 91.  Don't be fooled by revisionist theories about Bristol or North London blah, Rage was playing the key hardcore breakbeat tunes months before the other rave nights, at least until Spectrum came on the scene, where certain producers overlooked by F+G tried to ply their dubplates.  But of these two heavyweights, twas always Fabio promoting the lighter, more soulful sound within the scene even whilst everyone was off their nuts on pills and it seemed as if there was no soul to be seen.  Fabio always found it.  Though i frequently dislike his mixing technique (in contrast to Grooverider's geniuslike ability to render two average tunes into one amazing moment, and make it last an hour!), props are due to Fabio for his ability to survey the mix and dancefloor in a way which never loses touch with the roots of the sound -- from Coleman Hawkins to the Detroit Techno of Kevin Reese Saunderson et al via King Tubby, Curtis Mayfield and Aretha Franklin.  Ironically, Fabio is one of the few people in the scene he literally created who realises where it came from!  And one of the only DnB DJs to show true unadulterated love for the Acid House explosion which created the initial conditions for DnB.  He never apologizes for the cheesiness or the stupid clothes, he always just smiles and says 'those were the days'.  This slightly detached peripheral vision is particularly demonstrable in that he is perhaps the only one who knows how to adopt jazz influences without vanishing up his arse and forgetting his love of football terraces (go Spurs!)
All of which means that it really is a crying shame he's never learned to mix properly, lol.  Feel free to skip until...

32 min -- 2hr 10 min LTJ Bukem
It's great to hear the great man playing oldskool!  I much prefer it :-)
LTJ Bukem, well... the most perfect of all DJs, he has continuously refined his approach to the mix, the sound system, the lights, the MCing, the venue, etc... controlling every aspect of his mixing environment to his exact specifications, he makes no mistakes.  And takes no risks.  By 2000 this had unfortunately removed much of the incentive to witness him live, since he is so zen in his concentration upon the dance of the ravers, he pays literally no heed to other aspects of rave culture -- the posse and crew big ups and sycophantic collaboration of other Premier Leaguers in Drum n Bass, the fucked up conversation in the bogs, the random skits and in-jokes, the Red Stripe crew bungling their way from the bar turning their heads at girls who should know better, Northern monkeys cracking jokes at the expense of pussy Southerners in freezing club queues, those moments of joy, romance and love, scenes of fright, chaos and hurt and everything in between.  And whilst the same criticism could occasionally be levelled at muso ravers like myself -- and my sometime autistic approach to raving which emphasises frequencies over having a large night with your mates -- well, the fact is I haven't my living out of it!  The Japanese tourists don't mind, he's every bit as astonishing as they were expecting.
But if anyone epitomised the snobbish element of Intelligent it was this boy called Danny and his cohorts / disciples.  And with some irony, it is Bukem who first expressed hate for the label 'intelligent', claiming that it unfairly implicates other sounds as being 'unintelligent'!  Well, what with his label 'good looking' and his tune/album/night which share the name 'logical progression', does he not imply that other stuff is ugly and illogical?  Poor ol bastard, needs to lighten up!
And if most researchers look at what happened to Intelligent, they tend to follow the paths above.  Indeed, as i hinted last time by using the word Jungle, the meaning of the expression 'Intelligent Drum n Bass' has become so dilute (like the music) as to merely mean 'atmospheric' Drum n Bass.  Even Wikipedia talks out of its arse, claiming that Artcore was the same thing, bollocks.  Basically it's people in Fabio and Bukem's shoes looking back and remixing the past to suit their current theories about the present.
Firstly the development of the liquid sound from Fabio via John B, trance mashers like Stakka and other stuff i know very little about -- essentially a club sound honed strictly no later than 2 am in West End and city centre venues with aftershave offering dudes in the bogs and folk on the prowl for a fuck.  I don't know much about this scene, although I was a frequent visitor to Swerve during the birth of liquid round 98, i never stayed to find out how this was propogated around the world.
Secondly, Bukem's path has already been outlined -- his logical progression eventually took him to a point of stasis where his career dodged any of the uncertainty of being a drum n bass dj.  And what was visceral, what was unthinking and unbalanced had no place.  But I say everything in moderation including moderation itself.  Actually it's nice to hear him play some oldskool, because for all my criticism, you have to hand it to him... he literally never makes a fucking mistake.
Oh, I forgot Goldie didn't I?  :-)

2 hr 13 min -- 3 hr 30 min  Goldie
You guys might have already got the gist that i think that the gold one is the one and only true genius of jungle.  I've highlighted aspects of Fabio's folly which make him a contender and aspects of Bukem's perfection that lead me to suspect he is actually a Reptilian;  but with Goldie, folly and foible and the wonderful are inextricably linked.  Sure his mixes are rarely good the whole way through.  Who cares?  He wrote the best Jungle album ever, ran the best Jungle club night ever, runs the best Jungle label ever and is also amazing at conducting Grieg!  His graff is pretty mindblowing too, and I've very little doubt that he was the best in Miami at making gold teeth back in the day when that was his living!  All those random things, the blackness, the whiteness, the restlessness and poise;  I'll happily forgive him 'stenders, the boy is possibly the most important musician since James Brown, no exageration.  This mix is typically flawed but the moments of genius more than make up for it.  I'll hold no truck for the theory that says he can't mix -- that's a bit like saying James Brown was crap at singing.
Talking of which... MCs...  Er not much to say, except they're never that good like Mr Brown.  Mostly because they're not conducting a group, i tend to find the whole thing just doesn't work.  In the Rave setting they have their place but they are rarely appropriate to Intelligent, which I guess was in some way a reaction against the rise of MC culture within the caucus of the Rave scene.  If you like rap, stick to hiphop.
What about Bukem's chosen sidekick Conrad, well listen to Logical Progression vol. 1, now you've got the idea that he ain't bad, well forget it, he's never been better that trust me.  Cleveland Watkiss, yes but it ain't jungle, file under Drum n Bass, Jazz, etc.  Em, er that leaves MC Justice, who I seem to remember from nights down Metalheadz, is sometimes the quietest/laziest of any MC.  Perhaps that's the best accolade I could give any MC, lol...
There are many other DJs but only one is worthy of mention with the company above...
... some one entirely dedicated to the mix and nothing else.  He's hardly produced any tunes, he's never promoted a night, his label Mac2, well it's not exactly famous.  That man is Randall.  And he's better than any of the above I can assure you.  Like Goldie he's more than happy to bring stuff into his set which might not be viewed as Intelligent, until he mixes it with his attitude.  He is nearly as 'perfect' at mixing as Bukem and certainly more exciting.  You'd best do your own research, use google, use torrent searches, whatever.  As long as you stick to 92 -- 96 inclusive I'm fairly sure you will be unable to find a less than amazing set, good luck!
Bye bye have a fun weekend

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