Best of atmospheric junglists set for liftoff

Producer 04
Good Looking Records

LTJ Bukem
Producer 05
Good Looking Records

As the rain drips on the window of your soul, take yourself away to London, early 1990s, at clubs like Speed where the masters of our time such as LTJ Bukem and Tayla rocked the masses without comprehension. Mystical atmospheric sounds surround manic breakbeats jumping out of the speakers, as the crowd loses control.

Some of those tunes that most of us never got to experience firsthand are making their way onto CD for the first time this month, with two more releases in Good Looking Records’ Producer series, numbered “04” and “05,” featuring Tayla and LTJ Bukem, respectively. The albums contain mixes previously only released on vinyl, rare tracks and even some never-before heard tunes.

LTJ Bukem has been around since the early days of the hardcore and breakbeat scenes that evolved in jungle, and this compilation captures some of the most essential sounds of this evolution. Bukem’s first attempt at a solo release, dating back to 1989’s “Delitefol,” hints at the genius that is brewing under the surface, with its haunting blurred chants underneath a layer of heavy breakbeats. “Demon’s Theme (Part II),” is a continuation of the classic, and shows the direction that would become the Good Looking/Bukem sound, with its spaceship vibes combined with crisp beats, and other unforeseen sounds.

“A Couple Of Beats” features more than the title suggests, and shows some expertise and thoughtfulness in programming, even before Bukem had a mixing desk. “Dream World” makes you wonder what kind of hyperkinetic beauty is running through everyone else’s sleep patterns, while you only wonder if “Rainfall” could really sound this intense. “Logical Progression” makes you realize how far Bukem’s sound really has progressed, even to the “Logical Reprise,” which changes it up with a soul-jazzy flavor being added to the mix, with better results.

“Listen” is reminiscent of a classic Metalheadz track with its sharp beats and string filler in rotation, as does “Book Worm,” while still retaining some of that signature Bukem production. The album ends with a couple of unique tracks, one a version of “The James Bond Theme” that is beyond the beats per minute allowed in the movies, and a remix of Herbie Hancock’s “The Essence,” which improves on the original, resulting in a soulful jungle track that is breezy but still powerful, capping off an album that is full of surprises and intrigue, a worthy brief history of one of jungle’s most important producers.

Veteran Good Looking producer Tayla more than holds his own with this collection of his rare and unreleased tracks on Producer 04. The record begins surprisingly with a solid hard-edged deep house effort “Timefields,” which leads into the hardcore “Bang The Drums” that heavily influenced that scene at its inception.

The signature Good Looking style is in full effect with “Language,” with its misty ambience, and “Resolution,” which even rivals some of Bukem’s deepest works. “Bringing Me Down” should do anything but, with its snappy female vocals interspersed with sounds of the cosmos landing, which continues with the incredible laidback jazzy grooves of “Stargazing” which brings us into “Soft Focus,” while we are taken into the realm of undiscovered “Dimensions.” Finally, one feels like there is little “Soul Searching” to be done after becoming immersed into this magical collection, which even outbids Bukem’s collection in terms of sheer ethereality.