On the subject of speed in Jungle

D

droid

Guest
SIZZLE said:
One thing my friend Timeblind (who has been on the rave scene for many eras) said to me once that resonated strongly was: "DJs killed techno". I think maybe it was a quote from Moby, actually. The basic point being, most DJs can't beat match melodic tracks, wierd rhythms, strange arrangements and therefore wouldn't play tunes that featured these things. This lead the music into a cul de sac of tracks designed to be DJ friendly (same tempo, rhythm, arrangement, lack of complex melody) so that they would be sure to be caned by as many djs as possible, sell records, get the producer more DJ gigs, keep the lights on in the studio and food on the table. I think this definitely could be applied to the dumbing down of jungle into drum and bass' sped up boom bap 2 step rhythm. Which I hate like the bejeezus compared to what came before.
Another side effect (and maybe a contributing factor) to this is the dumbing down of DJng. I learnt to mix via jungle in 95/96, and it has to be said that the average jungle DJ's job was much harder in those days. The sheer range of production styles, lack of any real formal structure, and variation in breaks and rhythm made things much more difficult - especially playing out in a club with a shit monitor... learning how to mix thru a super clean Photek production to an early Emotif tune to a dirty Bristol amen to something by Alex Reece etc, is a lot more challenging than mixing a load of Diilinja, Bad Company and High Contrast tunes.

I remember the first time I played after a house DJ, and noticed (to my horror) that he'd turned the crossfader off, and was just using the main faders for his mix. After being forced to use all of the tools of the mixer, chops/cuts/kills/eq's etc. in order to mix jungle I was amazed that there were DJ's out there who'd never even touched the kill switches, and I often wonder if the aspiring D+B DJ's of today are really equipped to deal with anything other than the 4/4 'techno with a backbeat' style thats been dominant for so long.
 

DigitalDjigit

Honky Tonk Woman
I missed the original jungle era but I listened to a lot of that stuff at home and I love it. I can't stand new d'n'b though. I was in this club once and they had drum and bass in a little room upstairs. I don't know how it was different, it seemed to have all the elements of new d'n'b, I just remember how I really really enjoyed it, a lot more than Richie Hawtin who played the same night. And yet when Andy C came here I really *didn't* like it. I guess it is always up to the dj and what you feel like at the moment.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Brokeman said:
Rather, I want to argue that there is still something present in a proper Jungle night where the sense of chaos and disorientation caused by a top notch DJ still captures the ecstatic quality of the music in a powerful way. Many of the individual tracks may be formulaic but in the context of the mix, when the tracks are unknown to you as a dancer, there can be a lot of good voodoo left in Jungle.
TESTIFY! :)

Some great contributions to the thread for sure. I think people are perhaps trying to weigh up their own experiences against "the cannon" in some ways. For me, the nights out I had at The End and Movement and other places in the late 90s are amongst the best I've ever had and there was also an enthusiasm about following a scene... again. Those experiences perhaps don't compute for long time junglists, but maybe that's because they were too old ;) or just had had their fill before I arrived.
 

dubplatestyle

New member
i totally hold a candle for a lot of that stuff on the divide between 96/98 (when I was first getting into jungle). there were a ton of wicked tunes being made then ("to shape the future", "silver blade", "funktion", "brand new funk", "bambaataa", the grooverider mix of "share the fall", late hidden agenda...there are probably dozens). the death knell for me wasn't the 2-step (we all loved 2-step garage which was basically based on the same principle as 2-step dnb just with a warmer vibe and more swinging microprogramming); 2-step dnb when done right still sounds like amazing alien future anti-funk, something totally "new" in a way that even old jungle wasn't with its reliance on the "realistic" sound of drum breaks. the death knell was "piper" and then the first wave of bad company tunes...which were killer tunes! (bad company's "the fear" ep is stoll the shit.) the problem is that when i first bought it i was playing it at 33 instead of 45 because i couldn't believe it was actually meant to be playing that fast. you can tell there are people out there who want to keep pushing it even further, getting it up close to 200bpm. (witness the backlash against people like twisted individual who play like 400 tunes at +8 in an hour and somehow manage to make them all sound the same, i.e. sproing sproing sproing...simon's right that i do have a sneaking affection for some of this stuff, but it's like gabba: i couldn't base my life around it or make any claims for its importance as capital A art and really i just get a headache about 30 mins in once the "omg wtf" reaction has worn off. i suspect its good for the gym tho.) and even the scene diehards like doc scott and dillinja get all "oh dear no, no this wont do at all"...because it wont! 200bpm is gabba and at that point funk left via the window a long time ago. the problem is that if the bpm's did somehow creep up to 200 as the standard over the next 18, i bet all those people would be making tunes in that style. the reason, as many others have stated here, is $$.
 

dubplatestyle

New member
i think my ideal modern dnb dj would be mashing up the choppage stuff with like new virus records or whatever...there's room for both.

that 190bpm drugged out quasi-gabba stuff has no place tho.
 

ripley

New member
You can count me in with Naphta and some other's accounts of what happened.

As far as "djs killed it" - wel.. kinda in the "dumbing down of djing" vein - Djs have a lot more power to kill or lively up a dancefloor than they think.. It's just that power doesn't reside in the specific technical skills like beatmatching, it's more in the skills that work on the elements of music and the way audiences respond to those elements. The fetishization of particular skills - and focusing on playing for other djs, rather than a dancing crowd, I think has sucked a lot of the physicality out of the music.

I've heard a good dj play a set of techstep that I enjoyed the hell out of - but it usually required them not being dictated to by the structure of the tracks - i.e. not playing every breakdown, not letting every record have its individual peak and trough.. and layering, cutting, and generally being active with the sound. Of course, combining it with other sounds and styles also increases my interest. Not being bound by genre or any of those external tags - instread of creating a sound-vocabulary, and teaching it to the crowd.

But I remember going to Movement at Mass when a bunch of big-name djs were playing in 2000. It was a bit depressing because, all being big djs, they all had access to the same "exclusive" dubplates, and as a result they played basically the same tunes. But still, when Zinc came on, even playing basically the same tunes as the last dj (and certainly the same production-style tunes, and all in the same narrow genre) it was much more fun to dance to.

I got into djing because I loved dancing, getting inside the music, physically. That brain-body twist. And breaking apart the music (rupture chose his name so rightly) is the best way for me to do that, because it's that break that pulls most audiences in. seamless=death. (I kid! I kid!)

I don't get a ton of love from the mainstream dnb crowd, because i don't focus on the things they've focused on, technically. But I get love from people who love music for music, and love music for what it does to them, who hear something I'm trying to communicate, and from people who love to dance. those are the reasons I care about the most..
 
Last edited:

Brokeman

Living Too Late
ripley said:
seamless=death. (I kid! I kid!)
Kid? You shouldn't! The fetishism of technical perfection is the death knell of a great many musics. Listening to people talk a blue streak about Andy C because he's technically brilliant ("Flawless mixing!") makes me feel terrible! This is long standing beef for me with a lot of discourse in dance music because it's so at odds with every other aesthetic evaluation I bring to music. I'm personally of the belief that people choose to talk about DJ's skills in terms of technical perfection because they still don't feel completely comfortable with the artistic justification of the DJ as an author of music. Without an aesthetic language to discuss what the DJ does, people fall back on the same language they would use to describe Joe Satriani. This is especially true of DJs themselves in my experience; they will shit talk another DJ's skills all night long in a club because they realize that their own credibility rests on very little that they or the audience can put into words.

I will take Ray Keith's slightly sloppy chaos over Andy C's seamless mastery any day.
(not to generalize too much! ;))
 

dominic

Beast of Burden
i agree that mixing skills are way over valued . . . . first in importance is the actual tracks -- is the dj playing good tracks, good songs???? -- then the order in which the tracks are played -- and of course setting the vibe and transmitting energy . . . .

more important than mixing is whether the dj "has it"

caveat---------at the end of the day, what separates a big-time dj from a good bar dj is the ability to mix -- not seamless mixing -- but the juxtapositions and mash-ups executed by the likes of dj rupture
 
Last edited:

dubplatestyle

New member
i think virtuosity IS important in DJ'ing (i ain't gonna lie). the trick is to use that virtuosity to bring in varying elements, different moods and textures, even beat-match records with different tempos/structures, and <i>not</i> to overwhelm the music, to let it devolve into the smoothed out glide of simple seamlessness. (dnb dj's seem utterly terrified of confusing the floor for even a second, witness all the hoohah over fresh's "floodlight" [?...i think that's the one...fuck if i can keep up with all those goddamn tracks every month] with that super elongated intro.) of COURSE andy c is flawless...it doesn't take a helluva lotta skill to mix nu-dnb! even i can do it! (at least i could a few years ago.) anyone practicing more than three hours a week could probably become "flawless" over the course of a year or two. dj hype is a virtuoso, but there's nothing blandished out about those early "drum & bass selection" mixes. arguably those ruptures are built into the music. but as someone else here said, doesn't that maker it HARDER for the dj, to maintain those seamless transitions, to hold a blend for more than 30 seconds without it crashing into a mess of mismatched beats, to blend two or three drum patterns together at once instead of each track breaking down like a techno or house record (fading out and in on just a ticking snare or kick drum)?

of course, most dj's aren't ever going to be virtuosos (have you ever listened to a larry levan set? good lord that man would be run out on a rail today before he even got a chance to develop his audience; that bukem "mixmag live" features some incredibly hard chops which disrupt the flow [in a good way, given the ambient nature of the music otherwise]...he was probably just <i>waiting</i> for a music which he could mix "flawlessly" to "take his audience on a journey") so they either choose music that's going to make it easy for them or otherwise cultivate selection/atmosphere/mystique/fun (omg not FUN.) which are all perfectly valid ways to work a crowd, as long as they <i>are</i> working a crowd.
 

mms

sometimes
it's irony that the neo raggajungle guys like enduser and soundmurderer, chopsticks etc are really fast, faster than the latest bad company record.
i think that period just around darkcore and the beginnings of techstep is pretty interesting, lots of things coming to fruition, no u turn, even harder nonscene stuff, (but still respected guys like pancea), the more techno based stuff, deep productions, people like photek and guy called gerald, but this kinda stuff pushed the original junglists away a bit.
i think it got faster, riffy, two steppy and more cleanly produced as a reaction to music like hard house and trance which are and were massivley popular, but in the eyes of a white teen hood rat were probably a bit girly, that's when it got two steppy imo, catering for them kinda new audiences and producers. Certainly that kinda drum and bass is the 'third way' in successful provincial nightclubs with a wide music policy.

there seem to be elements of d and b at the mo which are doing something interesting tho, the type of tunes that bailey always plays at the beginning of his 1 xtra show, inperspective bassbin axis, slightly slower too as it goes.
 

DigitalDjigit

Honky Tonk Woman
I think you guys overstate the speed of dnb these days. For example DJ SS "Black" is like 180 bpm and Prizna's "Fire" is like 190 and those are both around '95 with chopped up amens, while most d'n'b these days is around 172bpm.

Have you guys heard Debaser? You could swear his records came out in 1994 but it's all brand new stuff. Authentic ragga jungle.
 

Brokeman

Living Too Late
SS's Black is a notable exception at 183bpm, as is Fire at 176bpm but they are the exceptions that prove the rule. I'm working in making a graph (geekery!) charting the progression of tempo across Hardcore, Jungle and Garage and the shift seems pretty consistent.
If anyone's interested in helping with the graph (I think I'll try doing a proper thread on this soon) I'm going to gather 50 or so tracks from each year and average the tempos across them. I'm thinking about using the colours and design style of the London Underground Tube map as a little homage to the roots. :)
 

mms

sometimes
DigitalDjigit said:
Have you guys heard Debaser? You could swear his records came out in 1994 but it's all brand new stuff. Authentic ragga jungle.
hmm
they are very fast and single minded on a ragga vibe tho, no room for many sonics, i like that stuff,
here is a shop to buy it in http://www.zionsgate.com/asp/default.asp all things ragga and dubwise plus some black metal which is odd.
if you spend a wee bit the guy will sort you out with a selection which is very kind, they also do cheeky represses of classic old tunes, stuff like marvellous kain's system etc..
 

blissblogger

Active member
Brokeman said:
If anyone's interested in helping with the graph (I think I'll try doing a proper thread on this soon) I'm going to gather 50 or so tracks from each year and average the tempos across them. I'm thinking about using the colours and design style of the London Underground Tube map as a little homage to the roots. :)
graphs, charts, pie-charts rule!

there used to be this guy who did track reviews in the back of DJ, before that he did in Record Mirror (which had this whole dj/discotheque servicing element) going back to the early Eighties, if not earlier anyway he did these great hypercompressed reviews, each track got about 35 words and was very vivid and precise but also dj-functional, and as part of that he would always include bpm, not just for the main bit of the track but for all its different phases -- the intro, middle bit etc -- James somebody, i forget his name -- anyways when researching Energy Flash i went to the British Library and ordered up all these back issues of DJ and mixmag, and by following his reviews worked out that there was a speed surge from the end of 91 to the start of 93 of something like 20 - 25 bpm, that's over about 14 months. despite being an old disco guy this James cat was quite conscientiously reviewing all these hardcore tracks, things on Moving Shadow and Reinforced but also really obscure darkcore tunes, i guess back then everybody who had a track out would send it in, until the scene when it went dark got so ghettoized they stopped sending out press copies. and DJ

so yeah, 25 bpm, as a fraction of from where it started around 125 bpm is, what a 20 percent speed hike - i'd be surprised if there was as steep an acceleration at any other point in the genre's history

i think that is the foundational speed-rush, the surge that drove most people away, back to house and the clubs, and the people that remained were the headstrong hardcore, the rave vanguard



i
 

Pearsall

Prodigal Son
blissblogger said:
so yeah, 25 bpm, as a fraction of from where it started around 125 bpm is, what a 20 percent speed hike - i'd be surprised if there was as steep an acceleration at any other point in the genre's history

i think that is the foundational speed-rush, the surge that drove most people away, back to house and the clubs, and the people that remained were the headstrong hardcore, the rave vanguard
I think that works for other forms of rave music than the London bass-continuum too. For instance, the whole knotty area of hardtrance/nu-nrg/hard house/acid techno etc. - in the mid-90's when that scene was getting going it was fucking fast. EDM, Choci, Noom, Stay Up Forever - all that sort of stuff raced along. Most nights I went to would start at over 150 bpm and head north quickly. Then there was the big Gatecrasher candy trance thing, which turned trance from ear-eating music for lunatics into a series of cotton candy avalanches. The side effect of that was to turn hard house into oink-oink basslined circus showtime music that was quite a bit slower than the screaming hoover/acid mayhem of before. End result - much bigger scene (with shit like the Lisa Lashes' Euphoria cd's doing hundreds of thousands of copies) and much lighter music, with both bouncy hard house and 'uplifting' UK hardtrance. Then that passed and the music then headed straight back into teeth-grinding 160 bpm hoover tunes and most of the casual boy-racer type listeners disappeared.

Of course, that whole scene is kind of off the radar for most people.
 

Brokeman

Living Too Late
blissblogger said:
graphs, charts, pie-charts rule!

so yeah, 25 bpm, as a fraction of from where it started around 125 bpm is, what a 20 percent speed hike - i'd be surprised if there was as steep an acceleration at any other point in the genre's history
Glad I'm getting a good first response to the graph idea, I hope this means I'll have tonnes of replies when I start calling for data!

This observation about the 25bpm initial shift makes a lot of sense. It explains how tracks at the speed of Mr. Kirk's Nightmare (125 bpm) in 1991 could have so quickly become 2 Bad Mice at 142 bpm in early 1992. I agree, this shift seems to be the opening gambit of hardcore - jack the tempo, flip the script and see who follows. I'm interested in seeing if a similar trend emerges with the transition from Garage to Grime - there seem to be some indications of a shift but the tempos are pretty varied at this point.
 

Melchior

Taking History Too Far
blissblogger said:
ganyways when researching Energy Flash
Hold it, you wrote Energy Flash?

Holy crap, that book was hugely influential on me, especially in checing out pirate radio stuff.
 

DigitalDjigit

Honky Tonk Woman
Brokeman said:
If anyone's interested in helping with the graph (I think I'll try doing a proper thread on this soon) I'm going to gather 50 or so tracks from each year and average the tempos across them. I'm thinking about using the colours and design style of the London Underground Tube map as a little homage to the roots. :)
A year is too long, you gotta do months. The change from summer '91 to december '91 was huge. Makes me think did bpm's grow more in the winter and stayed pretty constant in the summer. It kinda reminds me of something I heard about all the good tracks in the techno scene being released in the spring for the summer season and then the productions kinda dying off for a little bit.

Anyway, I figure use scene stalwarts like Subbase, Moving Shadow, Reinforced and Formation for your survey and you should be sorted.

There was also a tempo shift with trance. See Harthouse for example, releases hitting 170bpm at the end of '93 from things like "Stella" (on R&S) which was like 126 in mid '92.
 

SIZZLE

gasoline for haters
jumping back to the idea of seamlessness and mixing:

I agree that fetishizing technical skill is retarded. Beatmatching takes practice, but anyone with the dedication can do it, and that doesnt make them an artist. It's like certain genres of turntablism which turn into noise athletics (including body tricks).

Beatmatching however can definitely be used to CREATE chaos by layering non-genteel riddims and creating wierd new ones (like the sound of a hiphop and jungle record layered with that funny 3 point snare sound).

Also, one beloved example of chaos on the dancefloor is the sound of a record spinning back on a rewind. Listen to some real reggae clash recordings and the amount of shouting and rewinding (in ROOTS clashes, which makes it even crazier) just turns the experience into this breathless wildly exciting moment.
 
Top