Sunday, 9 November 2008

The ruff guide to intelligent jungle

All of this is nicked from a friend, who shall remain uncredited for now (no doubt those in the know will figure out who), just reposting it here so that I can share it with the literally units of people who read the blog ;)


"Anyhow's here you can pick and choose...  It's all quite arbitrary;  no doubt i've forgotten some obvious lines of enquiry, oversimplified the story and generally biased my account with ignorance, but hey, i'm not that bothered.  It's only supposed to be fun.  So here is...

Just to prove that i'm not only about oldskool (lol), here is the tune which inspires this guide:
Colemanism by Fracture and Neptune on Vibez 2006
This has been on repeat round at mine pretty much solidly for two days :-)

These guys have restored my faith in jungle.  About time, too.

Now, onto the massive guide, massive...

"Jazz Jungle"?  There certainly is a connection with Jazz, though it may be closer to Thelonious Monk and Art Blakey than some cheese like Stan Getz.  Jazz was about pushing things forward.  I hate that stuff that pops a sax in the mix, hoping to invoke the gods of Bebop;  utter bullshit.
So I make only slight apologies that most of this stuff is a little ruffer than some people's ideas about so called 'intelligent'.  It's all good for 'sit-down' listening, yes, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be ravey.  I mean, its supposed to be played on massive speakers!
So:  no bullshit crappy sounds fender rhodes nice pads oooh missie i do like your tinkly modulation does sound just ok on my whiney little TV ARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

This stuff is intelligent and was called such at the time.  But it is also all jungle.
... That having been said, I'll start with something 'nice'....

"Drum n Bass 2000 by Squarepusher" on ???? 2000 ????
Controversy surrounding this track (which was rare, ie non existent imo.  If we're honest it was 'released' by Napster.  My guess is that it is by Squarepusher, the bass tone about 6 minutes in sounds like his and that's an unusual sound in DnB.  I've got a feeling it's actually a processed live bass, layered with some sinewave stuff, which supports my theory.  Whatever, I'm really quite sure it has absolutely nothing to do with the very rare Lost in Space Drum n Bass 2000 Album, to which Squarepusher contributed a track, for the simple reason that someone would have informed us of its correct title by now if it were!  No it's got to be some kind of joke.  The piano is eerily familiar as many have commented.  I thought I had the answer the other day, but it turns out that the record i heard was sampling this, not the other way round...
PS  This tune is deceptive -- a lot changes during its course and you could miss out on the fun if you only check out the first 3 minutes...
Now let's dig up the archives.... It all started way back....


Made in 2 Minutes by Bug Kann and the Plastic Jamm on Optimum Dance 1991
I believe that this style of tune is the ancestor of the mid 90s intelligent thing.  Note the ironic title;  a clear boast on the cleverness of the composition.  If you're hardcore and want to follow the thread fully, first check this unusual 4 beat instrumental version (  Or just cut to the chase and check this shit out...  Don't worry i've saved you listening to the shite rapping, this is also instrumental :-)

Atlantis by LTJ Bukem on Good Looking 1992
However, accepted wisdom is that this is the man that started off the whole 'intelligent' thing (a few months later).  There were other players too, such as Doc Scott with his Surgery EP;  but many people would say that Demon's Theme was year zero in the history of jungle, certainly from an 'intelligent' perspective.  Via Horizons, Demon's Theme Part II and the much misunderstood symphony Music (the number of times I've heard this tune without any bass, it's just depressing), Bukem showed us how Dolphin noises and Korg M1 pads were the perfect counterpoint to Amen breaks and reverbed out 808 kicks for bass.
Anyhow, this one happens to be my favourite;  a little hardcore for you!

Warning by Firfox and 4 Tree 1993
Roni Size, showing us how the intelligence in jungle connects with the Jamaican Dancehall which so often ends up cliched in early jungle, especially the more chilled stuff.  But this one is just unique.  Never heard another like it.  Funny, dancey and outrageous, yet deep and warm.

Lord of the Null Lines (Foul Play remix) by Hyper on Experience, Moving Shadow 1993
The original is very interesting because of its happy go lucky nature which turns on the lyric "There's a void where there should be ecstasy".  It's s a comment on the MDA (heavy not like MDMA) pills that were going about at the time -- 'snowballs' -- which Simon Reynolds credits as a component of the darkcore jungle scene.  It seems that H on E weren't in favour of the direction the scene was taking.  However, it's the foul play mix that takes it every time on a dance floor;  though it uses many of the original loops, here is a clear case where subtle structural composition (i.e. 'intelligence') has a massive effect on audience reaction, the thing is structured like a poem or something!

Thru the vibe by Omni Trio on Moving Shadow 1994
Some people were still on one, of course!  This one is too much for me these days, but if only someone did a hiphop remix on that piano...

Jazz Note by Krust on V 1994
Meanwhile... this one shows us how the jazz influences were building up.

Follow your heart by 4 Hero on Reinforced 1994
So, there was this certain moment in time that seemed to drift along for about 18 months in which you could write a track so floaty and chilled and yet get the people groovy merely by engaging the crowd's ever keener ear for the shifting polyrythms simple sliced fresh break salad.  Of the huge number of mostly forgotten tracks in this vein, 4 Hero produced a good few.  And since I've not yet mentioned them, now would be a good time.  I find the best are their more understated offerings...

Basic Principles by Alex Reece on Metalheadz 1994
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, some other cats were cooking up the breaks.  New recipes and combinations of sounds for each hit.  Granted, Pulp Fiction is better, but this is forgotten -- and older (!) -- so I thought I'd put it in for a laugh.  Cheers Nino!
Was this tune the start of two step DnB?  I reckon.

Rings around Saturn by Photek on Science 1995
Hard to know what to say.  My pick of the classic era Photek.  Ni ten ichu ryu is cleverer, incidentally, and a more important piece of music.  I would argue for its status alongside Guernica as one of the most important works of art in the history of everything.  But i prefer rings around saturn.  I remember the first time i heard it...  Metalheadz at Dingwalls about 1997...  Doc Scott on the decks.  Yeah.

Angels Fell by Dillinja on Metalheadz 1995
Stone cold classic.  Alongside Pulp Fiction, this is probably the track which is most frequently cited as DJs favourite metalheadz release.  The drum patterns and bass are remarkable, the louder you play it, the more 'intelligent' it sounds.  Watch your bass bins!

PS  if you want to dance, you'll have to play Nino Kawasaki's sped up 5% version, also on youtube.  If you want to waste (another) evening listening to jungle, you could do worse than checking out the rest of Nino's collection on youtube...

Circles by Adam F on F-Jams 1995
Could have put up Metropolis;  but haven't we had enough Metalheadz already!  Not much to say about this one.  Nino's put up the remix by Adam F which is quite nice to DJ, well, that's a good one for collectors.  Works better on the dance floor, but not as good as the original.  Oh, and Adam F's dad is Alvin Stardust, lol.. that's how he got signed to EMI...

Can't really do a list like this without mentioning Goldie's album Timeless (FFRR 1995).  The most arrogantly and accurately titled album ever, this one they'll be playing when we're all living in pods in some virtual galaxy far in the future.  I won't include any tracks in the list, because the whole album is amazing (stick to the single album UK version, the other one just ain't right, you know it).
Unfortunately, its genius helped kill the intelligent thing by bringing it overground.  So I'll not be including any of the embarassing shit that followed.  Even the high points like Mutant Jazz Revisited by Trace, well there's still something not proper about them.

Spellbound by Tango on Creative Wax 1996
However, I forgive this one for being the best of a bad bunch.

Made ubiquitous by the DJ Kicks compilation of Kruder and Dorfmeister.
It might be worth mentioning at this point that the intelligent thing continued to crop up as a pleasant influence on certain downbeat and triphop and even some real hiphop like DJ Shadow.  Here's an obvious and quite pleasant example:

Speechless (K+D remix) by Count Basic on Studio !K7 1998

So, that was that then.  Well.  Not exactly.
Of course it takes Goldie himself to pop up out of nowhere and produce the occasional piece of genuinely jungley intelligent jungle.  His second album Saturnz Returnz wasn't up to much it's true (although Dragonfly is kind of nice).
Beachdrifta by Rufige Kru on, duh, Metalheadz 2001
Okay, it might be a bit too ruff to be truly 'intelligent', but then that's the Rufige for yer.  Just gorgeous, those strings.  In that battle for lush, no one has ever done it better than Goldie.


As a reward for making it this far, here's Goldie in the studio with Heist...

PS the author would like to point out that

That radio 1 mix for example just isn't good enough for a blog, shurely?  I mean with all that shitty compressed radio sound, arsehole interviews and not enough dynamics in the sub bass and some annoying MCs and stuff?  And I sometimes i just talk shit.  I said Spectrum (Paul's Oakenfold's acid house night back in 88) when I meant the Paradise Club and AWOL and all that, but I was also getting muddled up with Bukem's night Speed which came later and was obviously kinda pivotal for the intelligent thing cluturally.  Oh blah di.  And I can't justify putting the K+D tune in come to think of it, when I've left out so many absolute corkers.  The Box (original mix) by Kemet Crew for example.  Oh well...


  1. great tracks. it is hard to explain why these tracks are very important. some folks never feel the vibe, but it is a real miracle to watch somebody else have that zen moment when these sort of tracks "click" (I have been lucky enough to convert a few). it is like riding a bike, once you understand, you never forget. LISTEN TO THE 4HERO TRACK!

  2. oh yeah. RIP nino kawasaki and fuck moving shadow for killing him. moving shadow totally gave a middle finger to the heads with that boner move. -benjamin burke