The Rhythm crew flex a new side to their sound with this proper trip through the realms of deep, emotive jungle.
In many ways, the most compelling music within the 90s revival part of the contemporary scene is coming from those who truly adore it. It boils down to those who utilise the aesthetics not just as a tool for buying into a trend, but their usage of the very core of what made these genres special in the first place. In terms of the kinds of vibes people are going for these days, there is a very wide and open spectrum, owing to the fact that there is very much the widest pool possible of electronica to feel inspired by when it comes to the 1990s. More often than not, the tunes which really do pay homage come from the ones who have delved a little deeper, explored every nook to dig up the most priceless of inspirational elements, dipping into the pool of experience and historical significance and having the vision to recreate it in a modern day image. From the ideals within the contemporary techno scene, be it more aligned to the harder stuff or the broken, emotive tonal workouts, or the deep house/jazz tinged progressions of 90s house, through to the current garage revival, which has seen old heads mix in with young guns in a new found U-turn of appreciation. Perhaps one genre that has seen such a new found exploration is that of jungle music, which in many ways is one of the decade's most important musical concoctions. A genre built on fast paced delivery, the MC sweating the crowd, the small levels of emotive intervention, it was a period of musical history that endeared itself so strongly to rave culture, its presence spreading throughout the world from its UK roots. From its culture, d'n'b, arguably one of the world's most consumed electronic genres, developed rapidly, which whilst sharing similarities to jungle became more of a global powerhouse and ultimately more commercially viable. Jungle never went away though, remaining a stable of the underground throughout the 2000s, a tinkle in the eye of the beholder. Nowadays, the love for it is shining through in a big way, with many labels and producers dedicating themselves to reconsidering jungle to a new audience. This reconsideration comes from nights spent raving away in clubs and outdoors at undisclosed locations, a shared and historical passion for a type of music that united dancers, its aggressive and expressive style connecting people then as much as now. More now than ever, people are reconnecting to that shared passion for jungle, with a new breed of passionate producers trying their hand at creating jungle infused blends that carry forward the legacy of one of electronica's most enduring creations.
If any one label was going to pull off this kind of successful reimagining, it was going to be Cosmic Rhythm. The label has become synonymous with the 90s dream house movement, giving over record upon record of gorgeous music that reminds us of all the wonderment that went on back then for listeners. For a moment, we become very much like the people who back in the day who consumed this fresh and delightful music, and now with the Rhythm crew, we get that same feeling within us once more. The connection between the two periods of time is forged by an undeniable adoration for this period of musical history, where the deep house influenced Italian house scene became iconic in its own right, a continual reference point for dance music lovers to get their fill of emotive and immersive music. Founded by Nicola Loporchio in 2017, the label is very much a family affair, with various members taking turns to reinvent their interpretation of the 90s, with each EP delving further into what made it such a wonderful period of music. From Cosmic Garden, to B.U.M., to Rydm Sectors, to KETAMA, Mediterranean Key Collective and Rhythm of Paradise, each EP is a representation of the label to its inner core, its belief in delivering high quality dance music that opens doors and hearts. Seriously, if you enjoy your deep house, dream house or Italo house, check it all out immediately.
And now the label takes another interesting turn, with its latest offering, 'Come to Me' by XPRESSION. This is their first foray into the realms of purist junglism, and oh boy is it a journey indeed, with the bar set very high right from the off. The reworking of a respected and revered genre is never an easy task, but the duo, consisting of Michele Lamacchia and label head Nicola Loporchio, pull it off with such finesse and skill that you could close your eyes for a moment and imagine yourself in some dark and intense rave. It's a departure from the Cosmic sound we are all well acquainted with, but immersion into a particular time frame of music never occurs without falling in love with other genres from that time and place. This creates a genuine authenticity to proceedings, a love and reverence that expands beyond the realms of Italo house and into the world of full on junglism. And how they pull it off with such skill, dedication and passion, as always. So lets take a dip.
Up first comes the title track, and we get immediately thrown into it all. The repeating vocal line soars above the drawn out chordal movements, this moment of serenity is only harnessed for a few bars before the full on assault is launched. The amen is strong in this one, working hard alongside the intro section, as we really loose ourselves within the emotions of it all, the up high melodies doing the business alongside that most destructive of beats. The breakdown follows, where we get a moment of respite, before it all flows back through once more, the energy levels through the absolute roof. The switches in tone are there when required, the removal of the melodic elements just adding that little bit of extra spice to proceedings. It gives the track a real sense of ebb and flow, the contrasts between soft moments and full on ones something to really marvel at. Purity. Up next comes 'Brainwave', and the intro to this serves up very high expectations indeed. The cosmic chords swell in the backdrop, at just the right level, as the MC leads the way into the dance, his voice acting as the releaser of energy. As he speaks, elements begin to build, the split up jungle beat hitting so fucking hard right through the middle, as continued additions to the melody lift the track to unreal plains of existence. After that phenomenal build up, we reach the drum focus aspect, and the impact is instantly felt. The drums whip up a frenzy, as the vocal line keeps the feelings going strong, but in many ways its the level of instrumentation occurring on top. The tune has this unreal flow to it, moving and swinging with such pace and frantic energy, but it never falters, never for one second does it need to take a minute, the intensity just keeps building and building. This is such a tune right here.
Up next comes 'Horizon', and we kick off in familiar territory. The dynamic vocal sample, 'ohhhhh', moving around the frame quite a bit, as the deep set pads move about underneath. The drums filter into view not too long afterwards, abounding to the parameters set by the keys. The track moves forward, with the introducing of some very liquid style chordal tones coming into play. The track has that kind of melodic hypnotic quality to it, where the beat and deep set synths lock you in, and the chordal work on top does all the work in hooking you right into its world. The mesmerising quality of the track is something else, content to continue on with its journey, not needing to over do itself but simply to keep pace. Damn. To finish up, we have 'Airwave', and we enter new realms once more. The beat has a sped up, Luke Vibert kind of feel to it, combining all the styles and speeds of jungle with house leaning beats, and we are all for it. The build up is inch perfect, the vocal sample looping at a frantic speed, the key lines and sequences grooving at a fast paced, before it all kicks off. Truly a moment to remember, but when this track switches up, my god, its something to behold. The beat becomes full, still retaining this fast paced house beat but incorporating this unreal level of density, the kicks hitting harder than ever before. The tune continues on with its constant journey, the structures borrowing much from contemporary genres such as footwork with its vocal sample, before it all breaks down to give over the fullness of the synths. At this point, the track enters its next phase, the breaktbeat stylings taking hold as the pads do the business. Quite a remarkable track, to cap off a memorable performance from XPRESSION.
Over these four cuts, you really can imagine being back in the heyday of 90s raves. XPRESSION have crafted a homage, one that harks back to the past as much as it represents the future, where the underground emerges into full bloom with as much expression and bravado as you could possibly want. It is a record with several breathtaking moments, ones where the walls between past and present are merged into a kind of perpetual plain of existence, the barriers removed and reimagined for the present. A record with endless energy, time and movement, another absolute winner from Cosmic Rhythm.
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