One of the more exciting things that has garnered attention in the last year or so in electronic music is the seeming re-emergence of the Jungle and Drum and Bass sound. While the last decade has become more or less stagnant with rather lackluster bass music and bro-step, it’s refreshing to hear a renewed interest in the break-beat sounds that defined a whole sub-genre of electronica in the 90’s and early 2000’s. But is this a true revival, or is a new generation just getting sick of Dubstep and bringing attention back to a sound that has just been overlooked for the last 10 years?
Drum and Bass and Jungle became huge in the 1990’s and I remember a lot of people getting burnt out on house music, and turning their attention to the more break-beat sounds to get away from the same 4 on 4. Then all of a sudden, it just seemed to disappear; all of the DJs that had been promoting the Jungle sound were now spinning Dubstep and more worried about “the drop” than anything else. The sobering moment for me was seeing Dieselboy, who had ruled the Drum and Bass circuit for many years, spinning some of the most boring dubstep I had ever heard. I kind of lost touch with the genres’ for some years, focusing my attention on all the great House an Techno that was coming out, and maybe occasionally busting out one of my old Jungle mix tapes every now and again for nostalgic purposes.
Last year, however, several artists came across my radar that were incorporating the sounds of 90’s Jungle and Drum and Bass into their production. Two artists that had been producing what I had found to be somewhat boring bass music, Zomby and Machinedrum, had released tracks with heavy breakbeat leanings.
It was exciting to hear new Jungle from one of the old school greats, Congo Natty, who put out a new album of Ragga Jungle nastiness last fall.
This all got me to thinking and relooking at these sounds. They never really went away; they were just being overlooked by a world that had put Dubstep on a rock star status. And as this had dominated most “bass” music for the last decade, it was easy to look past the few people who were still keeping Jungle and Drum and Bass alive. In Detroit, there have always been a handful of old school local DJs who have kept Jungle alive in their crates, but for some reason I had overlooked their performances, as they seemed to get lumped in with the Dubstep-everything parties.
Just like House music has gained a new generation of listeners and lovers over the last few years, I believe so will Jungle and Drum and Bass. Not so much a revival, as the genre didn’t truly die; some of its best producers and DJs have just been waiting on the sidelines for the right time to bring back the break beat sounds to the frontline.