I love Jungle. Especially dark, rude, heavy Jungle - I go crazy for it - it contorts my face muscles into some of the most extreme pouts and gurns this side of a double drop. I forget the bad knees and backache, and throw shapes that would make someone half my age blush. I have been diligently collecting classic Jungle for many years now, and whenever someone is foolish enough to give me a gig I always drop as many massive rollers as I can, no matter how inappropriate the setting (quiet Sunday lunch with the family in the local? Have a bit of Super Sharp Shooter!).
Having said all that, I haven't really kept my finger on the pulse of the current scene - although Jungle has once again been embraced by a new generation of ravers and producers, I have - until recently - somewhat stubbornly failed to seek out new Jungle post 2000. However, I have seen the the error of my ways, and subsequently picked up the thread on contemporary releases. There is a whole wave of fantastic new Jungle, respectfully referencing the original sound, but with a freshness and innovation that makes them hold their own, over 30 years on from the birth of the genre.
Which brings us to 'Jimmy' by Missing, released in 2020 on his own Sub System imprint.
I first heard this track through my phone - it sounded fantastic and left me very excited to hear it 'properly' at home on my stereo. Unfortunately, I don't have the vinyl (I'll say 'yet') so I had to listen through Bluetooth. I only mention this because the experience left me scratching my head feeling that something was missing. It has all the right ingredients of a dark, atmospheric Jungle track, but somehow lacks space and warmth, the production sounding a little harder edged and more akin to Drum & Bass, with the overall mix a little flat. I feel this could be due to the digital format, so the observation should be taken with a pinch of salt. Indeed, Missing (aka Sam Gordon) has a long, rich history in the Jungle scene and certainly knows how to put a classic track together, having begun producing in 1994 as a member of the legendary Kemet Crew.
He describes "Jimmy" as a tribute (and welcome addition) to the handful of classic 'name tracks' built around a vocal snippet - arguably the most famous being "SCOTTIE" by Subnation - which featured weird, sinister sounding samples of random names being called out frantically, taken from old tv shows and sci-fi movies. This makes it instantly recognisable and memorable, which is a shrewd move in creating a classic, which 'Jimmy' feels like it could be.
This slice of unrepentant darkside begins with the reverb-drenched vocal sample swirling in distorted synth, until barely a minute in the screwface bass kicks down the door, like a rusty buzzsaw and reminiscent of the creepy and brilliant 'Valley of the Shadows.' I have to say, the speed at which the track developed into full swing surprised me somewhat, but then it is only 4 mins and 36 seconds long, which seems quite short - I'm used to tracks coming in at around the 6 minute plus mark, allowing them to unfold at a slightly more leisurely pace - the bass drop not appearing until at least the 2 minute mark. That having been said, this is clearly a dance floor monster, and gets down to business immediately. nothing wrong with that.
Lavery's 93 remix comes in at around 6 and a half minutes - and it is a glorious slice of chopped Amen Break-infused Jungle. Faster paced than the original, Tom Lavery cuts up the sample and throws in a couple more strange snippets for good measure - piling on the sinister and creating a possibly even darker remix. He is an important champion of the 90s Jungle sound, and clearly an attentive student - nominated for several awards and winner of best Newcomer DJ at the We Love Jungle awards 2018 - from a man who was too young in '93 to have witnessed it first hand!
Aside from my concerns about the sound quality - as I mentioned I think it is probably not a production problem - 'Jimmy' and the '93 remix' are great tracks. Dark, heavy and reminiscent of the best of the 90s scene, but - thanks in part to Jungles evergreen nature - still sounding innovative and exciting. And most importantly, they make me involuntarily scrunch up my face and get me waving my hands like a loon.
Job well done.