Around 1994 I remember hearing the track ‘Mutant Jazz’ by the mysterious T Power vs MK Ultra. It was getting airplay on Oz public radio station Triple J, which broke a fair bit of new indie and electronic music from the UK back then.
It started as a slow, funky trumpet-led lounge break that – completely unexpectedly – segued into the fast, stuttering, skittering beats of what I soon learned was called jungle. Then, following this initial segue, ‘Mutant Jazz’ improbably and brilliantly married both: slow and fast, dreamy and kinetic.
As jungle quickly morphed beyond the underground and spread around and outside the UK it became known as drum ‘n’ bass. The more ambient, atmospheric tip championed by the likes of LTJ Bukem and his label Good Looking Records became yet another iteration of ambient dance music alongside ambient techno, IDM, ambient dub, lounge, ambient breaks and a slew of other subgenres. Two or more of these styles were frequently fused together, and “intelligent” drum ‘n’ bass was one of the most eclectic and inventive styles of them all.
These two mixes capture rich, atmospheric drum ‘n’ bass and breakbeat tunes that are personal faves, mostly dating from back in the day but also a few recent ones including cuts from genre giants Blu Mar Ten. Pioneers like Bukem and A Guy Called Gerald are here, but so too are some stonking cosmic tracks from Australian and New Zealand artists which you have probably never heard and I think you’ll like. A lot.