by Geiom & Dawntreader
Simon Reynolds's oft-discussed "hardcore continuum" traces a line connecting jungle, or drum & bass, and dubstep. But monitoring the mixes lately has made it apparent just how deeply schooled in dance music's past the new wave is. This is the YouTube generation, the kids who have never known scarcity; they want to investigate a cool reference, they have it, without even having to join a P2P or a torrent site or clogging their hard drive. What's coming up sharpest for me lately is circa-1994 jungle. These three tracks all exemplify that period in some way, but what's most impressive is how un-hung-up they sound about it.
You know how revivalism works. People hit a certain age. Some new kids dig back and decide to try it themåselves. These people are generally working within traditions, and the strongest traditions are the very narrow ones, such as rockabilly or Gang of Four–type dance-punk. Drum & bass is like that, too: Though it originated in a flurry of colorful sound—its timbral patterns were as kaleidoscopic as its 3-D breakbeats—it took only a few years for the template to turn rigid.
The artists behind these three tracks are coming from a crazily mapped area of dubstep where the term is less genre than umbrella—an area where, suddenly and giddily, all kinds of things go. This is music that feels like early jungle's true successor, as opposed to the techstep and swarming-machine-drone stuff that actually came of it. I'm getting a sense of "let's try playing this out right" about it, reminiscent of the early '00s post-punk revivalism. Or a different analogy: London bass music in 2010 is connected to 1994 the way '78 new wave was to '66 mod.
These three records, listed in order of preference and all at least a couple months old, take that idea to the limit. They are all, more or less, 1994 jungle records, which for a certain kind of listener is like saying "1988 hiphop." Ramadanman's is especially electric: The yelping, shocked-sounding female vocal hook is reminiscent of vintage tracks by Aphrodite, Foul Play, and Omni Trio, as is the heaving, stop-start breakbeat, but it's clearly been made with a right-now sensibility, whatever it harks back to.