Sunday, September 21, 2014

better late than never

"Like free improvisation, jungle was music made under the pressure of the moment, in response to its immediate environment. Inevitably, as is the case with free improvisation, the music was never best served by recordings. The real sound of jungle, where it finally sounds like the music samplers were invented for, comes through on tapes of live radio broadcasts: all butchered beats and bass abuse with MCs giving increasingly incomprehensible shout-outs to massives all over London, plotting the subterranean night moves of the city via secret listening cells. Jungle saw the flats of the Nightingale Estate, the tower blocks of the borough, the huge speaker cabinets, with junglists scaling the buildings to plant secret antennae on rooftops and windowsills, guerrilla technology that turned these ugly buildings into huge would-be woofers, a modernist noise that was, literally, the sound of the city"
          -- David Keenan, writing about Dean Blunt, whose Hype Williams music was informed  by "the foggy tapes and foggier memories of Rush FM and Defection FM", and who himself declares that the jungle pirates were "punk for my generation"

Emitted a sound midway between a gasp and a guffaw when I read this in a recent issue of The Wire. The casualness with which the received knowledge is unfurled....  coming from the dude who in the actual Nineties talked derisively about "dance plodders" and opined that Keiji Haino could wipe the floor with Rob Haigh.....

I suppose, c.f. DJ Screw and Oneohtrix Point Never,  that when a Hypnagogic Hero says something's cool, it suddenly becomes relevant, retroactively sanctioned...

And then that odd little contention that jungle "was never best served by recordings", only came alive on pirate radio shows....   As if the "butchered beats and bass abuse" weren't engraved in the vinyl to start with (for sure, it got chopped up some more on the decks, got augmented electrifyingly by the MCing). As if the whole culture wasn't based on recorded music. But then I guess if you never actually heard those recordings played through a massive system, at a massive you're inside...

2 comments:

Tim space debris said...

I saw Keiji Haino live once. It was biggest downer ever and not in a good way. One of the worst nights out of my life. Omni Trio however have given me so much joy throughout the last 20 years of my life.

Omar Francis said...

Some might say the real sound of Jungle is well worn Music House dubplates in their yellow sleeves with unreleased VIP mixes, the stuff that dubplates-vinyl posts on Soundcloud.

Still I am glad at least that unlike other sub-genres Jungle revisionism focuses on pirates and the music rather than things like drugs or the violence from the early days.