Tuesday, October 24, 2000
Also at SonicNet is this interesting little feature on 10 essential Drum & Bass albums. The idea is somewhat flawed: while there's nothing inherently wrong with a jungle album, by focusing on the album format at the exclusion of singles, remixes, white labels etc, there's a guarantee that the recommendations won't cover the fullest and best extent of the broader style - especially since the albums listed all seem to have been chosen with availability/profile in mind.

My pick for best jungle album ever would have to go to Grooverider's Hardstep Collection II mix cd from '95, which not only has peerless mixing from an on-form Grooverider, but features some of the best jungle tracks ever: FBD Project's "She's So", Dillinja's "Angels Fell", J Majick's "Your Sound", Roni Size and Die's "It's A Jazz Thing", Splash's "Babylon", DJ S.S.'s "Lighter" etc. etc. and etc. Only trouble is that you'd be hard-pressed to ever find a copy of the thing these days. Not to mention that the predominance of '94-era hardstep jungle would confuse the post-Goldie drum and bass dilletante.

That said, the recommendations are generally pretty spot on. 4 Hero's Parallel Universe, along with their subsequent album under the moniker of Jacob's Optical Stairway, represent the pinnacle in out-there drum programming and jungle fusion. Torque is far and away the best techstep compilation around, featuring virtually all the early masterpieces from the No-U-Turn stable. I can't think of a better general introduction compilation than Metalheadz' Platinum Breakz with its bevy of classic mid-nineties tunes spanning the spectrum of light to dark. Reprazent's New Forms is the most successful jazzy-jungle attempt, and a great collection in general, whatever its detractors might think. And Goldie's Timeless, despite some less-than-thrilling filler, does have a number of undeniably brilliant moments - the title track, "Saint Angel", "Angel", "Kemistry", "Jah You Know Big", "Still Life" - that more than justify the price of purchase. Still, perhaps Omni Trio's The Deepest Cut would be a more consistent example of pop-jungle.

The other selections I'm somewhat iffy about. I can understand the inclusion of LTJ Bukem's Logical Progressions compilation as the requisite ambient/"deep" jungle collection, but personally I reckon the necessary tracks are better found on other, superior Good Looking Records and third-party compilations. Jonny L's Sawtooth is a good album, but his follow-up Magnetic blows it out of the water. Ed Rush and Optical's Wormholes is rendered redundant by the inclusion of both Torque and Jonny L, and a more interesting example of artist-based techstep album would be Dom & Roland's Industry. Peshay's album I haven't heard in full, but the supporting evidence seems flimsy - one New Forms is quite enough - so perhaps in its place we could subsitute A Guy Called Gerald's Black Secret Technology or some choice hardstep/jump up. I guess it's just too bad I'm not the one they come to when commissioning these sorts of articles ;-)


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