Title: Siberian Jungle Volume 5
Artist: Various
Release Date: 2014 Apr 22
Genre: Jungle / Drum-n-Bass
License: CC BY-ND
Pricing: Name Your Price
Label: Tunguska EMS

Introduction

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 clich√© 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.

Conclusion

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.

Various: Siberian Jungle Volume 5

Name Your Price
8.5

Rating

8.5/10

Posted by George De Bruin