It's alive! Since its birth in the early 1990s, drum 'n' bass, née jungle, has been pronounced dead more times than even a DJ accustomed to counting BPMs would bother to count. The style is once again making a comeback, with hyperkinetic productions marked by a jazzy sensibility emanating, most often, from the London studios. But the most exciting recent transmission from the breakbeat galaxy comes from Michigan's Soundmurderer, and it's not a new creation, properly speaking. Wired for Sound is a mix CD (or rather, three mid-length mixed sets) of early-'90s jungle classics, dating from an era when chopped beats still sounded tough and fresh -- that is to say, before they formed the soundtrack for every other car commercial -- and when digital techniques like "time-stretching" (a distorted form of sample alteration) were still in the R&D phase.
Jungle is heavily indebted to reggae and dancehall music, overlaying triple-time breaks and caroming bass lines with the toasting of Jamaican vocalists like Cutty Ranks. Soundmurderer -- a.k.a. Todd Osborn, who runs Detroit's Rewind Records label and also records minimalist house music as Osborne -- draws heavily on these older productions, playing half-speed dub cadences before releasing jackhammer snares.
Wired for Sound brings together 60 tracks from acts like Remarc, Shy FX, Tek 9 and Krome & Time, but picking out the individual pieces is hardly the point. Tracks spin by in a dizzying whirl of drums and speaker-shaking bass, while the nimble- fingered Soundmurderer picks his way through jungle's golden era. Air horns blare, chants of "Murderer!" pan across the spectrum, drum fills collapse into back-spinning rewinds. The energy is unmistakable and irresistible. Whether Wired for Sound signals the beginning of a return to ragga jungle or is a captivating one-off born of one skilled selector's obsession, resurrection never felt so raw.
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