Up until late 1993, the terms Hardcore and Jungle had been used interchangeably to mean one and the same, but there was a divide growing. Just as darkside Hardcore came about as a reaction to the commercial side of rave, some DJ’s felt the scene had gone too dark.
In mid-93 Slipmatt released SMD#1, which was essentially a classic piano House sample layered over frantic breakbeats with a huge breakdown chucked in the middle. It was a straight up, hands-in-the-air, feel good anthem that was an attempt to bring the happy vibes back into raves. This struck a chord with DJ’s such as Seduction, Sy, and Ramos who also started releasing a more uplifting style that would later evolve into Happy Hardcore. On the other hand, DJ’s including Kenny Ken, Randall, and Mickey Finn continued to further explore the murkier realms of beats and basslines at clubs like AWOL which specialised solely in the rough underground sound that was now being referred to as ‘jungle’.
There was still a good dose of the darkside around – As the beats swirl, reverse, and echo away into an eerie metallic loop it is hard to think of a more appropriate name for Dj Crystl’s ‘Warpdrive’ , as if all of space and time itself is being sucked into a gigantic black hole. Meanwhile Sub Nations notorious darkside classic ‘Scottie’ lifted deranged laughter and cries of “we’re all gonna die… all of us!” from Sam Raimi’s cult splat-stick horror, ‘The Evil Dead’. However Jungle had also begun to embrace other sources of inspiration too, with producers such as Roni Size seeking to marry up breakbeats with 70’s soul and funk on tracks like ‘Music Box’ to create a compelling new take on the rough-smooth dialectic.
At the same time, LTJ Bukem’s Good Looking label had eschewed the ‘in-yer-face’ belligerence of jungle to embrace a more atmospheric and laid-back sound. Drawing on samples from obscure US House & Techno releases, Bukem created a vibe which was about building an atmosphere through the progressive adding of layers and subtle switches. Tracks such as ‘Music’ had an almost hypnotic quality which offered a different kind of payoff for the more patient raver.
What I really like about the late ’93 sound, is that all of these styles still share enough similarities for them to be incorporated into the same set. In fact my favourite DJ sets from this era are those where the DJ played right across the board. This month however, to highlight the distinction between Hardcore and Jungle in late ’93, I have uploaded a separate mix for each. But it’s easy to imagine that most of these tracks could be juggled around between the two sets and would still work with each other equally as well. The tracklists also reflect that many producers at this time were still making both Hardcore and Jungle. Just a year later the idea of Jungle DJ’s being able to drop a DJ Vibes record, and Hardcore DJ’s being able to drop a Foul Play record would have been unthinkable.
Jungle and Hardcore had been happily married for a couple of years now, but the rot had set in. From this point on they would continue to drift apart on their own separate paths. Fortunately, jungle had done enough soul searching to establish its own raison d’etre and find an audience for what it had to say. These mixes are a tribute to its first baby steps into the big wide scary world of music as an established genre in its own right.