Quango Sport | Blunted | A Journey Into Ambient Groove | New Kingdom | Pop Fiction | Raw Breed | Howie B
I'm a techno purist at heart, but I like breakbeats and all the old jazz and funk samples that are snatched, manipulated and reworked into new tunes, but just like the dissemination of house and techno into popular music culture, jungle is becoming a product that people churn out to a specific formula . There are a couple of tracks that stand out on the CD. Alex Reece (a big name in the jungle community) does a good job of remixing Tricky's "Brand New You're Retro" and check out the xylophone excursion on "Alien Resident," written by Kid Loops. There's a lesson to be learned: pretty much anybody can loop a breakbeat, grab something soulful from someone elses tune and cut a jungle track. Keep it experimental. Keep it underground. Keep it interesting. Please!
The Edinburgh Project
What is it with Scotland? First there was Trainspotting and now we get confronted with this totally choice album from what appear to be mainly Scots. This place could become the cultural epicenter of the world! This is how I like to hear my breakbeats - DOWNBEAT. I haven't heard of 3 Bag Brew, The Outa Nationals, Blackanized, Suga Bullit, Coco and the Bean or Freshly Squeezed until now, but I hope I'll hear more of them in the future, every track's a winner. Blunted is definately on a mellow trip, somewhere between semi and complete unconciousness. It's midday Sunday and I'm still in bed, listening to Coco and the Beans' 'Melted' and it's just perfect. Sorry, I just lost grip of reality but I'm slowly clawing my way back, only it's hard from a horizontal position. So's writing this so I'm going to stop, lay my head back down and listen, I suggest you do the same!
A Jouney Into Ambient Groove/Island/Quango
The title may be self-explanatory, but it has to be called something - right? To be fair, ambient is a pretty loose term as far as loose terms go. Waves lapping through your speakers (or on a beach) for 60 minutes is ambient, Hawkwind is ambient, the hum of the fan on the computer is ambient, although sometimes just plain annoying! This compilation lays its ambient roots in dub, full of deep, soothing bass lines, quirky noises and electronic riffs with some funky samples slowed down and thrown in for good measure. "Gato be Oro" heads things off with a fine example of all of the above (I got hooked on the gentle 303 line that constantly drifts in and out of the track) but my favourites have to be Zion Trains two offerings; "Arise" and "First Power." .This is a rerelease by Quango due to the initial success of the trilogy. Yep that's right, the cannily titled A Journey into Ambient Groove phase 2 and A Journey into Ambient Groove 3 are also available.
Paradise Don't Come Cheap/Island/Gee Street
Take the members of Cypress Hill, splice their collective genetic coding with that of Nine Inch Nail's, Trent Reznor, and you get what this sounds like; a none too serious attempt at producing raw, dirty rap music that sounds like it was recorded on my first ever tape deck, using the built in microphone. I still can't decide if I really like it or not, but I liked their Mexico or Bust album and the title track isn't that bad. The trouble is it ain't that good either. I guess if it was cleaned up sonically then it would be easier to the ear, but even then I have my reservations.
The reason this compilation works is it covers a wide range of styles, all still pretty chilled, but different. Bristol-based Portishead's "To Kill a Dead Man' ebbs and flows in deep waves of sound while jungle-miester Alex Reece breaks free from the darker side of the force just long enough to create "Jazzmaster," a slower, more experimental breakbeat voyage. Side two concentrates more on trip hoppy beats and loops with the likes of Beanfield and Patrick Pulsinger doing their duty. As to whether this is all really pop fiction - who can say, I mean it is at the moment but it's turning around fast and before too long it will all be pop fact.
OG, pimp, hustler, bad ass, nigga, bitch, ho; Raw Breed says it all. They are o. g's through and through. Tracks like "Killa Instinct," "That's my Nigga" and "What tha Deal, Son?" give it away really. They rap about shoot outs, drugs, drinking 40's in the projects, sex, the police, the street and they lay down some fat grooves and some rock steady beats. It's simple, it deals with some issues and it works. I was reminded of people like KRS-1 when I first heard Raw Breed and the Jungle Brothers, back in the late Eighties when rap music was still stripped of the fancy edges that has gone to produce so much of today's 'socially acceptable' and 'politically correct' rap music. If I were Siskel and Ebert and this were a movie, I'd give it one thumb up.
Music for Babies/Island
Trip hop, hip-hop, down beat, ambient, we've heard the labels time and time again and used them too Music for Babies seems to take a bit from all of those and combine it with a little electronic tinkering to produce a good sounding record. I'm not saying it is the best tune you've heard this year, but you could argue that for most music produced these days. Oh oh, I'm starting to get cynical, but it's true, we go around quite happy to keep on re-inventing the wheel! Just remember, ifr it ain't broke, don't fix it!!! I listen to this tape when I'm reading in bed, or after a hard night's partying and I come home and all I want to do issszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...