Pearsall presents Rethinking Missed Chances: The Return of Jungle Techno

Pearsall presents Rethinking Missed Chances: The Return of Jungle Techno

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Pearsall · Rethinking Missed Chances: The Return of Jungle Techno

Mixed in Berlin, December 2021
100% Vinyl
(90:00, 206 MB, 320 kbps mp3)

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  1. Response & Pliskin – Life Without Death [Western Lore]
  2. Unknown – Decadence [White Label]
  3. Dandalf – Justice [Deadbeat]
  4. Eight Dudes & A Chick – Bwoy [White Label]
  5. Slim Sinna – Retrigger [Sub Code]
  6. Innercore – Cov Sound [Innercore Project]
  7. Crashead – Everything [Amen Brother]
  8. Pearsall – Crossbones [Sonicrampage]
  9. Wislov – Too Much Coffee [Kniteforce]
  10. Fat Controller – In Complete Darkness (Pete Cannon Remix) [Uphoria]
  11. DJ Jedi – Takeover [Jedi Recordings]
  12. TenTun – Ruff It Up [Rave Radio]
  13. Stu & Nee – Highest High [Enormous Mouse]
  14. Innercore – Dreams 2 Reality [Innercore Project]
  15. Shadowman – Remember The Future [Deadbeat]
  16. DJ Y – My Bizz [Faces of Bass]
  17. Slim Sinna – Give It To Em [TufStuf]
  18. DJ Mindhunter – Mind Full of Stars [Parallax]
  19. Tim Reaper – Slugs Penetrate [Hypercharger]
  20. Tim Reaper & Dwarde – Globex Corp Vol. 9 (Side B1) [7th Storey Projects]
  21. Peter Darker – Peter’s Pals-R-Ace [7th Storey Projects]
  22. DJ Jedi – Earthbound [Jedi Recordings]
  23. DJ Mindhunter – Mindtrips [Parallax]
  24. Worldwide Epidemic – Side Swipe [Knitebreed]
  25. Unknown – Stomp! (Side A) [White Label]
  26. Tim Reaper & Dwarde – Globex Corp Vol. 8 (Side B1) [7th Storey Projects]
  27. Tim Reaper – Globex Corp Vol. 6 (Side B1) [7th Storey Projects]
  28. Hornchurch Hardcore – Planet Earth [Dark Age]
  29. Mahakala – The Exodus [Mahakala]

I’m really excited to present this mix. Originally I recorded it in December, but it’s taken me until now to put it online. There’s one or two slightly wonky mixes, but I’ve moved on from the kind of obsessive re-recording I used to do. Life is too short! This is a fun mix, I’ve really enjoyed listening to it personally, and now is a good time to actually share it.

As you can tell from the title, this is a mix of modern jungle techno, and by ‘modern’ I mean stuff made in the 2000’s, but more specifically most of these records were released in the last five years, and all were made well after the sound’s first appearance in the glory days of the early 90’s.

But what is ‘jungle techno’?

If I had to give a rough definition, it’s a style of music that briefly flowered in the UK rave scene of the early 90’s, a sound characterized by chopped-up breakbeats layered over thumping 4/4 kickdrums, undergirded by punishing bass, and layered over with samples of all things ‘dark’ (horror movie strings, mentasm stabs, spooky dialogue, etc), and spiked with techno-esque stabs.

Not every track that I’ve selected in this mix fits that description precisely, but that should give you a rough idea of what to expect.

The title is an allusion to the fact that this style of music only existed for a brief period in its initial incarnation, eighteen months maximum from late 1992 to early 1994. This was a brief and weird interregnum between the euphoric sounds of 1991/1992 breakbeat hardcore and the sonic forking that happened in 1994 where hardcore split into two directions – the rhythmic psychedelia of jungle (which then became drum n’ bass) and the pop-pupilled sonic fairground ride that was happy hardcore.

For that brief moment, however, there was something really vital and amazing happening, as I discussed in the essay I wrote to accompany my 2017 mix Darkside Generation:

What were the characteristics of the 1993 sound that made it so exciting, and that have kept it fresh for so many years? For one thing, it was a point when producers began to push in a ‘darker’ direction, away from the relentless euphoria that was the hallmark of the early rave scene. This was perhaps a nod to the fact that after years of chemical abuse, the ravers on the dancefloor weren’t so easily swept away in an MDMA-driven serotonin flood. In effect this meant a few different sonic changes. One was simply a raising of the bpm’s, making the sound ‘speedier’ and continuing the move away from the disco/funk elements of the original house music sound. This was music to go nuts to, ‘strictly for the headstrong’, per one of the scene’s slogans. No tasteful grooving in a silk shirt here! A second element was a new focus on percussion, as new technology and production techniques enabled the producers to more effectively layer percussive elements and chop them up – over the course of 1993 and 1994 this technical focus would lead to the emergence of jungle music as a revolutionary sound focused mostly on drums and bass. The last distinctive element of 1993 hardcore was the use of ‘dark’ sounds to fire up the ravers’ rushes, such as menacing strings, horror movie samples, threatening stabs, and the ubiquitous hoover synth, as initially popularized on Second Phase’s Mentasm.

Jungle techno’s brief moment in the sun was wildly creatively fertile, and I’m not the only person who in the years since has become mildly obsessed with it; as evidenced by the remarkable run-up in second-hand prices on those original tunes. Thus I have personally been very excited to witness a new generation of producers reviving jungle techno in recent years. In some cases this has meant recreating the original sound but with new audio production technology, whereas others have taken the blueprint and adapted it to bend it into new and interesting forms.

The title directly references this – there was a real missed opportunity back in the 90’s when this sound disappeared so quickly, there was still so much mileage in this idea, this high bpm ravetastic merging of breakbeat hardcore with techno. So it’s been really cool for me personally, as an aging raver, to experience this revival.

If you’re interested, I did a similar mix a few years back called Get It 005: Get Dark, and in the essay to accompany it I wrote about the ‘uncanny valley’ effect of strict rave revivalism:

Modern producers working in this genre are working with 25 years’ worth of information – they have seen which elements work on the dancefloor, they have vastly superior tools available for composing, editing and mixing down tracks, and they also have a better understanding for how to structure tracks to be both easily mixable and dynamic for crowds. This is a collectively-built knowledge that they can draw on.

The original 1993 darkside sound was a much more freestyle affair, and this is especially apparent when you listen to recordings of old sets from pirate radio and raves. The production technology of the time was by modern standards laughably primitive, and most producers were just making things up as they went along, experimenting to find new and crazy ways to do things. The result of all this creative ferment was, collectively speaking, pretty amazing, but there were also many missteps along the way. Amateurish productions, wobbly levels, bizarre (and frankly stupid) samples, keys clashing, different elements not properly in time with each other … if you are a crate digger who is interested in this period, as I am, over time you hear some really bizarre and terrible stuff, the kind of stuff that gets ignored in modern throwback mixes or lists of ‘the best early rave tracks’.

But this stuff wasn’t ignored at the time! It would get played at raves and on the radio, so when you listen to some of these old recordings you get these moments where just you furrow your brow and go, ‘what the hell is that?’

And I have to say that these failed experiments are part of the charm and, in a way, part of the humanity of the early rave scene. In large part this was a scene of young, mostly working-class guys trying to express themselves and rock the raves with the tools they had to hand. Really it’s a miracle that so much amazing music came out of this fairly insular world. But not all of it was good, some of it was terrible (really!), and some of it was more of a mixed bag, which is I guess is a decent metaphor for life itself.

One thing that maybe didn’t come across so clearly in that essay is that I do actually really like this new jungle techno! Even when the tracks are very strict revival tunes, the production quality is really crisp, the pressings are nice, and the tracks sound absolutely booming. These tracks are banging!

So this mix, therefore, is a bit of a selection of some personal favorites from the last few years, with a few curveballs thrown in just for entertainment. I hope you enjoy it!