Title: Siberian Jungle Volume 5
Release Date: 2014 Apr 22
Genre: Jungle / Drum-n-Bass
License: CC BY-ND
Pricing: Name Your Price
Label: Tunguska EMS
I’ve been in love with jungle / drum-n-bass music for a long time. But, for a long time I didn’t understand why I was in love with it. It wasn’t like anything I had listened too. It seemed there were endless variations of what fit within these sub-genres. And yet, all of them had a common, earthy element to them, and were definitely signified by strong bass lines. Now I hear the Amen in the Siberian Jungle and my love for this music is even stronger.
I was so in love with this style, that I got very strong into LTJ Bukem, and the recordings he produced. It wasn’t until years later that I finally came to understand what actually unified the varying and seemingly disparate songs that fit within the genre. And the answer was a mind-blowing revelation: this whole sub-genre of electronic music was based on a sample of a six-second drum solo from 1969.
The story is this: the B-Side of a single by the Winston’s released in 1969 contains the drum solo in question. Sampled use of this drum solo can be traced all the way back to Third Base’s ‘Words of Wisdom’ and NWA’s ‘Out Of Compton’.
Chopped up, re-sequenced and looped versions of this drum solo form the basis for nearly all (if not all) Jungle and Drum-n-Bass music. The original song was ‘Amen Brother’, and the drum solo became known as ‘The Amen Break’. Don’t believe me? Check out the video I’ve embedded at the end of this article,. It details the history, with samples of tracks such as ‘Straight Out of Compton’ that use the drum solo, and examples of how it was split up and re-sequenced.
Learning about the Amen Break was like being given the key to a room I hadn’t never been able to go into. But, now that I was able to enter it, the sense of mystery disappeared, and that was what had been important to me. But, not only that, having gone into the room, I found things I didn’t like — like exposed pipes that kind of made the room ugly.
Amen in the Siberian Jungle
But, even knowing the story about the D-n-B / Jungle, I still love it. And, even more than ten years later, I think it is still one of the most interesting musical forms that has emerged in the past fifteen years. Why? Because there is still a lot of innovation, change, and more importantly: communication happening within the genre.
So, the other basic element of Jungle is a reference to Dub music, which is (of course) based on Jamaican Reggae music. Not that you can easily tell these days, with the range of tempos, and overall progression the music has taken. However, it at least hasn’t fallen into the predictably annoying niche of Dub Step (Skrillex and other artists just don’t seem to be progressing in this stale form, it’s just becoming a cliché of itself).
On Siberian Jungle Volume 5, the artists of the Tunguska Electronic Music society have produced a range of Jungle music. Tracks like ‘Late At Night’ are easily recognized as classic Jungle style — the Amen Break is all over the track. On the other hand, other tracks add some new twists and turns, like ‘Make Me Stop’, which sounds like the illegitimate child of Techno and Dub Step music — but the underlying Jungle style is still there just below the surface.
But things get really interesting when artists have their own take on the music that integrates multiple styles and almost threaten to start their own genre. Such as the track ‘Apocalypse’ which at some points sounds like Dub Step, some points like Amon Tobin, and other straight Jungle. And, then there are these breaks that don’t quite fit any of those styles. They are a natural decomposition of the main elements of the piece, but they have a different feel, almost like they could become their own style.
Which makes this release a really great listen. There’s all these things that you know and expect in a jungle / drum-n-bass release. It never disappoints in that manner. It even extends itself into a techno and dub step a bit. But then these artists take it that extra step and put their own spin on things. Adding transitions, or breaks that aren’t quite what you might be used to, but definitely add to the overall vocabulary that has evolved in Jungle music.
For a while my love for Drum-n-Bass and Jungle music had waned a bit. Especially because I didn’t hear a lot of innovation, and even when I did hear something new (like Dub Step) it quickly would become its own stale niche. Compound that with finding out about the Amen Break had removed a lot of the mystery which I enjoyed, and exposed the things that had bothered me but I hadn’t been able to explain.
But, this release brings back my love a bit more for Jungle music. While it is solidly full of the elements you would expect, it’s the little twists and touches that make the difference.