Under The Counter (Volume Three)

Reviews of new releases and fresh promo’s.

Q-Project – Guitar Thing (MJAZZ Unreleased)

This year has seen a plethora of unreleased 90’s music finally see the light of day with a rare few being true sought after “holy grails” from the golden era, “Guitar Thing” falls into this category. Originally played by Jumping Jack Frost, Ratty and LTJ Bukem during the Summer of 1994 it has until now remained unreleased in any form.

Anything with “unreleased” and “as played by LTJ Bukem” in the description is bound to help shift units but like the Peshay & Roger Johnson track “Crazy Daydreams” (finally released last year on Basement Records) there has always been an air of mystery around “Guitar Thing” which only adds to the interest surrounding this release as not much is really known about it. Always believed to be from the Legend Records stable no one knew who it was by with the Invisible Man at one time suggesting he may have worked on it with Quiff whilst also admitting his memory of that era was a “little hazy”. No original release information was mentioned when it was played on KISS and it was also mooted that the track was never finished or properly titled which also added to the intrigue.

Fast forward to 2018 and Tony Justice has managed to secure its release on his new MJAZZ unreleased imprint backed with “Wild Pitched” and a sublime remix of one of their finest Good Looking moments “The Instrumental”. Taken from DAT and remastered by Macc the twelve inch sounds glorious with “Guitar Thing” taking up the A-Side and “Wild Pitched” and “Instrumental (Remix)” sitting comfortably on the flip. A must for any collector of Good Looking or Legend Records this would have been a seminal release when it was originally made and has lost none of its edge now. Minimal yet affirming drum and bass and arguably some of Q-Project’s greatest work from the early days of jungles evolution.

Law & Wheeler – Lost Fragments EP (Next Phase Records)

No strangers to the atmospheric side of DnB Law & Wheeler have had a string of well-received releases on Repertoire Records (originally founded by Law in 2009) including a recent Metalheadz style remix of “Titans” by Blu Mar Ten. Here they present three diverse tracks from funky yet rugged drum and bass to profound and meditative downtempo. “Lost Fragments” begins with sparse pads and filtered drums before launching into a series of creative chops that are enriched with guitar notes and damaging bass tones. Overall moody and mysterious yet remaining energetic and optimistic. “Greyscale” opts for a more digital approach with beats constructed from single hits, electronic warm bass and intoxicating bleeps whereas “Cold Snap” is a reflective downtempo track with soothing hypnotic pads, faint chords and an understated techno bassline which drives the track along whilst remaining contemplative and poignant. As always the release features amazing artwork from label boss Robbert Peperkamp.

Dissect – Evergreen / Allegory (Sonic Force Recordings)

The first release from brand new entity Sonic Force Recordings (sister label of Silent Force Recordings) features two Good Looking inspired tracks from London based artist Dissect. Harmonic pads, rhythmic drum edits, GLR style birdsong and bongos all contribute to the serene atmospheres of “Evergreen” and “Allegory”. Mystical sounds weave their subtle way through the tracks and breakdowns deliver moments to reflect on a time when Bukem could do no wrong. Recommended listening and a promising start to the label, definitely one to watch going forward as they focus on the 90’s “intelligent” sound that Good Looking was famous for. This release is available digitally and also on strictly limited edition vinyl (with only 100 white labels being pressed) exclusively from their Bandcamp store.

X Nation – X Nation EP (Foundation X Black)

Old school champion and original junglist X Nation delivers three amen driven tracks crammed with nostalgia designed for sweaty dance floors. Uplifting horn sections meet familiar vocal samples, beats are edited frenetically yet never lose their rhythm, bass lines are joyfully devastating and melodies are instantly memorable. This EP reflects back on everything that was special about mid 90’s jungle and captures that spirit and vibrancy in every sample choice and amen edit resulting in a sincere homage to one of the most exciting times in UK dance music. A special mention needs to be made for the Foul Play amen sample in “Kiss Me Neck”, the way the different drum edits intertwine is nothing short of genius producing an aural explosion of old meeting new. An essential purchase for anyone who grew up on the Kemet sound or fell in love again with jungle via Green Bay Wax.

Various Artists – Criterion Records 22 EP (Criterion Records)

Criterion Records present four unique takes on Amen manipulation, helping to fuel the storm are familiar vocal samples from the ghosts of jungle, waves of rich atmospherics and layers of FX that aid each song to construct their own story. Reference points range from the early ethereal sounds of 1993 to the dark intense tones of 1997 and beyond. At times celestial at others relentless. This vinyl only release was mastered by Sappo and cut by Beau Thomas with the twelve inch also featuring a magnificent sleeve designed by Simos. “Criterion 22” sees the label taking a different and more experimental approach than previous records but maintains its dedication to intricate drum and bass and unleashing tough Amens on vinyl.

Soundbwoy Killah – Come My Selecta EP (Sneaker Social Club)

After the recent drum and bass fuelled remixes of 2 Bad Mice by Sully and FaltyDL Sneaker Social Club return to the leftfield with four heavy tracks of hardcore and UK garage mutations. Refreshingly hard to pigeon hole the EP draws on elements from decades of UK club culture to create a haven of vocal samples and wonky beats with bass lines built to test sound systems and neighbours patience. Classic jungle FX and MC samples also help to provide character to these infectious yet quirky fusions.

Trinity Carbon – Buzz Feelin EP (Art-E-Fax)

New label Art-E-Fax launches with four edgy examples of sample-laden electronica. Sitting somewhere between techno, house and early warehouse euphoria this EP is anarchic in style but warm in nature. Soft pads swirl around with a true sense of freedom disregarding standard arrangements as beats stop and start abruptly without notice. Jagged loops throw kicks off balance and string samples seem to rise and fall at whim creating a woozy sensation of bewilderment. A highly intoxicating EP that disregards rules for traditional club music and is all the better for it.

Skeleton Army – Catchy Schisms EP (Killer Smile)

The first release on label Killer Smile comes from its founder and ex Foul Play member John Morrow aka Skeleton Army. The “Catchy Schisms EP” features four eclectic tracks firmly rooted in the leftfield territory. Vague pads, swarming electronics, deep bass tones and off-kilter drum tracks mark a distinct change in style from the previous house based Skeleton Army releases. This is John back in experimental mode, texture and balance are key with fine details like static on sampled drum kicks adding a rich layer to the EP where sound palettes take centre stage. Arrangements are amorphous and organic drifting along without sounding stifled or robotic. The EP also features “Touch”, an uplifting house take on the classic Foul Play sound that revolutionised drum and bass in the early nineties.

Words: Dave Sector

Many thanks to the artists and labels who send me music. If you would like your release considered for inclusion on Two Hungry Ghosts please email your submission to twohungryghosts@gmail.com

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