LTJ Bukem – Fantazia Takes You Into The Jungle
I’ve been DJing for nearly 20 years now, and making a living from it for around 14. But what an awful lot of people don’t know is that for the first few years of that, I was obsessively, almost exclusively, a drum & bass and jungle DJ. My first track that I ever played out (and not as Santero, I was called DJ Blaze at that point in time!) was this little thing from DJ Red, at a friend’s birthday party at The Market Bar in Nottingham…
I’d been the guitarist and singer in a Pixies-esque band through my late teens, but when I started raving in earnest while at university I soon sold my guitars and bought a pair of Technics, and started hoovering up all the 12″s I could afford from Selectadisc. I think that the energy and power of D&B and Jungle appealed to me the same way as the music of punk acts like Hüsker Dü and Fugazi had, so it’s not the giant leap that it might seem to some, and indeed, I’ve often been struck by just how many people in dance music around the world have a background in punk and hardcore scenes – I would guess that the DIY attitude that they share is a big aspect in why so many were able to make that move from one to another, just embracing the new challenge and finding a way to make it work. Given the explosion in popularity in dance music in recent years, and the way it has been corporatised in the more popular areas, I’m not sure if it’s as open to this mentality, but there are still people out there making their own waves, and long may they thrive.
Anyway, to the Mixtape Monday offering this week. LTJ Bukem is probably best known for his Logical Progression mix series that popularised Intelligent/Liquid Drum & Bass, and his label Good Looking Records. But this mix capture him before he’d fully gone down that road, and still has the raw energy and vitality of the early hardcore and ragga jungle sounds of the early 1990s, brilliantly marrying the intricate percussion and frenetic pace of this era with a more melodic, atmospheric and nuanced sound than most of his peers were capable of summoning. While I can imagine some who are unfamiliar with the pace of D&B will find it hectic, I tend to find myself periodically swaying to the half-beat with this mix, the 2nd in a 3 CD collection from legendary rave promoters Fantazia, with DJ Rap and Grooverider the other contributors. DJ Rap’s mix is also a cracker, while I never really got on with the Grooverider one, even though I was a huge fan of his for the Prototype Years era a few years on. The flow of Bukem’s mix is superb, and listening back to it here in 2016, while this is obviously of its era, it really does stand up as a superb selection of music more than 2 decades after it was put together, when so much from the early years of rave culture sounds horribly dated now. Listen, and enjoy a true master of his craft.