Saturday, December 16, 2017

Routes from the Jungle (Kodwo komp)

Melody Maker 1995

by Simon Reynolds

What we have here  is a damn-dear definitive history of the genre '91-'95,  ardkore to art-core. Taking in happy, dark-side, ambient and drum & bass, this two-disc set only shortchanges us vis-a-vis ruffneck ragga. And it gets round the problem of being comprehensive yet avoiding redundancy (given the excessive number of jungle compilations in existence), by A/ including unusual mixes of key tracks that have appeared elsewhere on CD, and B/ dredging up some lost classics never before CD-anthologised.

Lost classics like Lennie D Ice's "We Are E", which cheekily turned an African chant into an anthem for the Luv'd Up Nation. And like the sultry smooch-core of "Waking Up" by Nicolette (now of Massive, then of the Shut Up and Dance stable), and of Manix's unbearably tender "You Held My Hand". Lost-est and classic-est of the lot, and my absolute favourite hardcore track of all time, is Foul Play's remix of their own "Open Your Mind". With its angel-host harmonies and diaphonous ripple of succulent synth, this track is as goosepimply as the entire works of My Bloody Valentine liquidised in a blender and injected into your spine. Midway, the track veers into the twilight-zone, then turns vicious with a veritable St Valentine's Day Massacre of rapid-fire snares.            

Other gems on Disc One include the febrile avant-funk of DJ Edrush's dark-core classic "Bludclot Artattack", as flesh-crawlingly foreboding as stumbling into a voodoo ceremony; the gloriously garbled "Secret Summer Fantasy" by the undeservingly forgotten Body Snatch (somebody anthologise their awesome "Just For U London", pu-leeze!!); plus A Guy Called Gerald's cyber-tribal "Nazinji-Zaka", making good its mysterious omission from the "Black Secret Technology" LP. Drawing mostly on late '94 and early '95, Disc Two is a handy survey of the state of the art-core. The old skool's rushin'-and-gushin' euphoria has given way to a more measured passion; fusion and Detroit techno influences are entering the junglist gene-pool. The result is a sort of ferocious elegance, best exemplified here by the delicate, deliquescent melancholia of Dillinja's "Deeper Love", the clockwork-gone-crazy convolutions of 4 Hero's Wrinkles In Time", and Droppin' Science's "Volume 2", with its radioactive synth-glow and grotesquely elasticated breakbeats.

All this, plus excellent sleevenotes from compiler Kodwo Eshun, makes "Routes From The Jungle" the most essential jungle-primer for the uninitiated since last year's "Drum & Bass, Selection 1". It's a history of the phuture. Buy, buy.

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