Here’s a slept-on 94 track I meant to play for the past two radio shows, but didn’t get around to – might as well post it here!! I’m not sure if it really counts as “darkside” since it’s a bit late for that. Instead, it’s more gloriously gross, moody and odd choppy low-fi jungle. “Grave Digger” is packed to the brim with 8 bit sounding samples (soundtrack pads, movie vocals, dog barks, etc) all mashed together for 6 minutes of nonstop craziness.
I certainly can’t see this tune winning over any novices to the genre, but this is exactly the type of craziness I love finding hidden on the B2 side of some otherwise nondescript bargain bin jungle EP. One for the anoraks and those whose taste runs to the dark and moody side of jungle!!
Here’s a long time favorite which still seems to be going for reasonably cheap, though the original is a bit harder to find. Strange since I definitely like the original, but this remix wins for me, no doubt about it. Nothing too crazy going on here element-wise. As you’d expect, you get the twilight zone theme music. Honestly, any other theme song might make this a bit of a novelty track, however this one obviously lends itself perfectly to a non-corny track due to the atonal nature of the synth just looping over and over while layers upon layers of classic BBK amens bang away in the background, flanging a bit at times. Eventually a nice pad breakdown hits with a bit of techno synth (sounds a bit like the “Surkit” synth, as used in Return to Atlantis?). Then back to business with the Twilight Zone synth + serious amens. Definitely one to grab, whether it be vinyl, digital or both. Edit – Ooops, right before publishing this, I gooogled it and fnd Bay B Kane is selling it himself on some sites… best to buy it from him and check from the clip below!!
Here’s a fun track for Friday.. guessing the only reason this wasn’t bigger back when released was that it came out in 94 but sounds very much 92 style… not just the uplifting pianos (which contrast nicely with the Cape Fear soundtrack music sample), but the low fi hiphop vocals bits, etc. In fact, it pretty much sounds like it could have come out of the exact same sessions as NRG classics like “Never Lost His Hardcore” or “Feel the Fury”. Not sure if that’s the case or not, but either way, I don’t think it ever got proper UK release and instead came out in a German label in a couple of different pressings. Definitely a fun grab if you’ve got the other NRG stuff (which most 92 fans do) but are looking for something less known with a similar fun sound. NRG – Domino.mp3
Here’s a tune I know nothing about, but have played on the blog2 radio show a few times over the past couple years. It’s a nice amen track that sort of borders the line between dark and vibey. Not sure about the artist behind it, other than he might have been connected to Bizzy Brain (Brain Recs) camp since he did a record on there. Either way, it’s not a total bargain bin tune but comes along fairly cheap on occasion, so keep an eye out! DJ Fusion & Dexterous D – Arm of Orion
Here’s a tune which flew under my radar for ages, but I’ve really come around to as of late. For those who don’t know, Torchman is an long-long-longtime veteran of the UK jungle/hardcore scene, since before that scene even existed (starting with Acid House in the 80’s). Aside from DJing top events like Fantazia, Orange, Fusion, etc, Torchman released one of the most well loved tracks of 93 (and one of the most pricey), “Tell Me” on Face Recordings. In comparison, I think this later EP flew under a lot more people’s radars. I can’t say I’ve heard it in many mixes, though obviously ben / jj / phil can feel free to correct me on that. The label who released it (Faster Faster Recordings) only ever did this EP, though the catalog number makes it look like Faster Faster may have been a sublabel or affilate of a Hiphop label of the time, Expressive Records. Either way, this EP definitely didn’t have the label push that something on Face would have, which might explain the lack of presence in big sets etc.
Tune-wise, I’ll admit I didn’t really think all that much of “Shine” at first. I usually focus in on beatwork in tracks, either brash programming or intricate sequencing. In the case of this EP, both sides are quite stripped down, with nothing crazy going on. Most producers by 94 were layering in think or other more “full”/heavy sounding breaks, whereas the ones in “Shine” are more classic hiphop/funk ones pitched up enough that don’t have much low end to them. Also, the vinyl cut itself is kind of quiet, and it takes a bit of boosting live despite being cut at one track per side. However, that’s not to slate the tunes themselves – they’re well worth checking! Shine in particular is a winner – hynotically loopy soul/jazz bits somewhat reminiscent of Reinforced, combined with Stacatto sub bass hits and simple but catchy timestretched vocals. No unexpected changeups or anything to blow you away, but absolutely proper headnod vibes that get the job done nicely. A lot more people seem to be into melodic, laid-back and atmospheric jungle stuff as of late, and many of those tunes are picking up a lot in demand value. I’m guessing few people still know this one, so if that’s your bag, definitely check it out and buy a copy if you like it!
As an aside, simply listening to tracks like this on their own on the internet, it’s easy to forget their just-as-important use as tools in a set as opposed to expecting each and every one to smack you over the head like a prime-time track. Anyone can grab a few dozen amen smashers and do a set that tears your face off from needle drop. It takes a bit more effort to find the right tune for the right time, slowly building up energy, etc. Being such a veteran DJ, I’m sure Torchman knows that better than anyone, hence tunes like this!
Here’s a nice vibey number by Ron Wells (aka Jack Smooth of Basement Recs fame) and Scott Free (who did a wicked EP on Basement called “Street Fighter” or “Street Fighting” if I remember right). It’s not one of Smooth’s best known tracks, and it’s somewhat removed from his earlier more “jungle techno” style, but it’s a great tune nonetheless: lush 94-95 style tuneage using vocals from Satoshi Tomiie “Tears” (I think? can’t check now) coupled with hot pants breaks and dreamy synths. Well worth grabbing!
Here’s a fun track, the original of which was released on two different white labels. The first is a bit harder to find and pricier, and features the original of this tune along with a wicked unrelated tune. That original is still probably my favorite of the two, but rather than posting the obvious in-demand track, I figured I’d post this remix since I’d never heard it before and it was a more interesting recent acquisition. It’s also a bit more solid sounding and a bit streamlined for mixing. According to a comment on discogs, these tunes were written “by a guy called Cookie based in Palmers Green in North London.”. Never heard anything else by him but both these releases are worth grabbing for sure! Classic jungle through and through.
Here’s the blog to the oldskool set from last Sunday on jungletrain. I know I seem to post more of these sets than tunes these days, but this is my favorite one I’ve recorded in a while. Chock full of personal fav tunes, including some well known tracks (the opening Peshay, Liftin Spirits etc) as well as plenty of nerdy obscurities, plus a few exclusives including a forthcoming 8205 Recordings track. Lots of great stuff, check it out and leave a comment if you like it! Continue reading… Blog to the Oldskool Radio – September 7th 2014
It’s funny how, being in the States, there’s a lot of cool and ridiculously cheap tracks I end up missing out on because 1. I can’t find them here 2. I don’t make it to the UK much and 3. the cost to ship them over from the UK massively dwarfs the record cost itself. Most of these are available in big quantities for next to nothing on sites like discogs/ebay, but it always feels like a bit of a waste spending 99p on a tune combined with 8-10 pounds to ship it over here. Of course, it’s just as silly to spend that amount on postage for a 5-10 pound tune, but for some reason it doesn’t FEEL as bad, so plenty of classy tunes end up slipping through the cracks for me. This is one of those tracks. Thankfully, I finally nabbed a copy here in the US a few weeks ago, and I’m glad I did: It’s a solid 94-95 EP by the same artists behind N-Zo + Invincible – “Ease Yourself”. This one sounds pretty similar beat-wise, but with more layers and effects to the drums (always a plus for me) plus a Lethal Weapon sample in lieu of a melody. Nothing incredibly shocking or out of the ordinary, but definitely a fun banging amen tune for mixing. At under 3 and a half minutes it’s definitely on the short side, but at least there’s no melody to risk clashing with whatever you’re mixing it with.
UK people: feel free to nab this on the cheap, and bask in the glory of being able to get these awesome records without having to have them shipped halfway around the world (or waiting the better part of a decade for a copy to show up for sale on your continent). Renegade – Jump
Here’s a great 94 jungle track by Original DJ Vibes, certainly one of the more underrated and prolific oldskool producers out there. Producing from the early 92 hardcore days (those first few EPs are quite crucial in my view), up through the 96 era, Original DJ Vibes (maybe named such due to the more happy hardcore leaning DJ Vibes who did tunes with Wishdokta?) put out a number of awesome releases on his label Active Recordings. This is a nice representative one: nothing too strange or out there going on in it, just a choice jungle tune which screams “jungle” through and through. Literally, there’s a voice saying “jungle” throughout! The beat programming and sample selection are quality, good structure plus some familiar samples (the classic “too black too strong” line from a Malcolm X speech as used in a bunch of tunes). Plus, like a lot of these Active Recordings releases, it’s pretty cheap and easy to find – definitely one to nab before you go off obscurity hunting for some 80 pound jungle rarity which probably sounds half as good as this. Original DJ Vibes – Grown in the Jungle