Category Archives: Jungle

Red Light

RedLight2In and around 1994 the jungle scene was changing. Even though the sound had never been more popular there was internal division as to how the sound should be progressed. In one camp sat those who believed that the way forward was to eschew the trappings of hardcore rave tunes, stop the reliance on sampling each others’ music, and to move towards a more technical and considered approach. This direction led to the evolution of techstep and eventually neurofunk in the mid-late 90s. Similarly, there were those who believed the future lay in richer and more original musical arrangements, taking influence from jazz, classical music, and contemporary music in general. These were the antecedents of jazzstep in the mid 90s and then liquid drum and bass later on.

At the same time, there was still a significant demand for punter-friendly dancefloor tunes that retained the Jamaican soundclash-style ragga influences that had been a notable component of jungle and hardcore tunes since the beginning. These influences were often among the first that were let go by so-called ‘intelligent jungle’ producers as markers of an outmoded style. As a result, despite being wildly popular, ragga jungle existed almost on its own as a separate branch of jungle music – and so the annoying tendency to categorise every jungle/drum and bass track within very narrow, arbitrary and obscure subgenres (as I have just done!) began.

Red Light was set up in 1994 by rave pioneers Shut Up and Dance as an outlet for the ragga-style jungle tunes they were making at the time. Aka PJ and Smiley, Shut Up and Dance released numerous early rave scene classics on their SUAD label. Unfortunately, at the height of their success, SUAD were made an example of by the music industry for using uncleared samples on the monster hit Raving I’m Raving. Although this didn’t cause the label to completely shut down, it’s clear that the episode had an effect on SUAD’s output from then on. As such, Red Light became something of a safe haven – a cozy jungle sandpit where SUAD could continue to do their thing in their own fashion, with limited run releases, away from the glare of scene politics and the distractions that can bring. This mix features the output of those sessions.

I wont go too far into the history of SUAD but if you want to read more there is a brilliant in-depth interview with PJ himself over at Blogtotheoldskool. SUAD have their own website too.

All of the releases on Red Light share a particularly unified sound thanks to shared and heavy sampling of various Jamiacan sound clash tapes across all of the tracks. If you took a shot for every time the same “Massive!”, “Get me!”, and “Oh God!” samples surface in the mix this month you’d be a dead man three times over.

There are two big anthems on Red Light. Coca Cola is a straight up ragga tune well-known for sampling the vocals from Simpleton’s Coca Cola Shape but Bastards is something else… instantly recognisable by its “Keep jumpin’ ya bastards!” vocal sample (by PJ himself) the clattering breaks and heavy warp bass smash forward to create the perfect dancefloor smasher. “We’re stompin now!” indeed.

Another Red Light release that I must shout out is Hunt and Seek / Selekta. Both tracks are similar to Bastards in that they hit hard, and bass sits really well in the mix. On Selekta in particular the breakbeat choppage is just ridiculous. As with most of the Red Light tunes, Selekta is bare bones, often just one or two channels running at the same time (drums and bass!). But what SUAD do within those limitations is true Amen artistry. Highly recommended! Here’s this other blogger who bigs up Selekta.

So, in summary, all of the Red Light releases are well worth tracking down. They’re probably the most pure examples “ragga jungle” you are ever likely to find, and they were doing it first alongside only a very small number of other labels at the time… Suburban Base, Tearin Vinyl, etc. Unfortunately due to their limited nature, most releases on Red Light seem to be undergoing the dreaded Discogs price-gouging right now and are not cheap. Upwards of £50 seems to be about standard which is a fair chunk of change for a crusty jungle record. Despite this, any Red Light is a buy on sight item in my book.

Red Light was wound up after only 8 releases (9 if you count the Black Tracks release, see below) having, in the words of SUAD themselves “run its course”, pretty much like jungle music really. SUAD, like so many of jungle’s biggest names, went on to become major players in the UK Garage scene over the next decade. Long live the nuum!

Tracklist

Hunt & Seek
Somebody SUAD Remix
Selekta
Coca Cola
Kunta
Bastards
Wow Yeh
Roots Rock
Skylarking
The Burial
Look Good
Fire
Sensi
Killer Sound Boy Nitty Gritty Remix
Killer Sound Boy Nitty Gritty
Wanted
Liquidator
Bastards Remix
> Coca Cola Remix
Get Up
Somebody
Ruling
Murder Tonight

Bonus Features

Black Tracks Vol 1 – this was the only ever release on the Red Light sub-label, Black Tracks. I’m not quite sure why the need was felt to release the tracks on the new label as both Skylarking and Liquidator could have easily sat as tunes on Red Light itself, but there you go.

Blackman – Bastards / Coca Cola Remix – Although both Bastards and Coca Cola were out on Red Light first, this release was done on the main Shut Up and Dance label. I’m guessing they wanted to capitalise on both tunes being big. Fair play! This release features a repress of Bastards and a similar-sounding remix of Coca Cola.

Blackman – Kunta / Wanted – Again, two more big jungle tunes from ‘Blackman’ aka PJ and Smiley, put out on SUAD, which would have been perfectly at home on Red Light itself. This release as well as Bastards/Coca Cola on SUAD are well worth a look as there are many more copies about compared to the limited Red Lights. As such, they can still be had for very reasonable prices. Bargain!

Red Light – Ruling Feat. Garnet Silk – this came out on one of the Jungle Hits compilation albums put out out by Street Tuff / Jet Star, and as far as I know this is the only place you can find the tune. I have the shitty four-tracks-per-side vinyl but there is a CD version which I presume includes the full (or maybe edited?) track in crystal clear digital.

The mix

Download MP3 320kbps 54 mins

Cybotron Records

Sup, G here. Apologies for the delay. Life gets in the way sometimes.

This is the first Dillinja post on this blog. I feel slightly ashamed about that as Dillinja is undoubtedly up there with the greatest of all time jungle producers – possibly THE greatest. But I let others decide on that. Stab in the dark for fave D tune? Got to be any of the three tracks off of Angels Fell but that’s just me. Maybe Silver Blade? Or Threshold? Too many to count…

I’m going to assume anyone reading this already has a working knowledge of Dillinja’s body of work, so if not, I can only apologise, uber-geek wanky shit is ahead.

cybotronAnyway, back in the period 1993-95 Dillinja was at his most prolific, putting out track after track, week after week, on many different labels under numerous pseudonyms. I’m led to believe he was literally living in his studio at this point in time, if he wasn’t out delivering stacks of his own wax around London-town. Compared to Dillinja’s output on Deadly Vinyl, Logic Productions, Conqueror, Philly Blunt and Lionheart (among others) from around the same era, the Cybotron tunes strike me as being much more on the experimental side. Influences abound, from straight up hardcore and darkside jungle, to hip hop, sci-fi films, and ragga. I guess not entirely surprising as Dillinja was still learning the craft here. In this post, I’m mixing every tune that was put out on the label.

It is sad to see that these records have now become quite scarce. If you’re looking on Discogs you’ll probably see that many are up for sale only very infrequently. Those that do come up are often price-gouged. That’s a pity because the Cybotron tunes are some of Dillinja’s most interesting from a purely ‘listening’ perspective as opposed to straightforward dancefloor tracks, but at the same time I’m not aware of much, if any, availability on digital formats. Supply and demand, hey?

Cybotron Records cat numbers are fairly confusing as some were pressed on other labels. My take on the complete output is as follows, going strictly by DILL cat numbers which to me form the full Cybotron canon.

  • DILL 01 – Steal the Way / Forever Fierce
  • DILL 02 – Lock Me Out / Dark Influence
  • DILL 03 – From Beyond / Ride it Hard
  • DILL 04 – Sinewave / Dark Science
  • DILL 05 – Black Wax EP (on Target Records)
  • DILL 06 – Majestic B-Line EP (On Deadly Vinyl)
  • DILL 07 – Imperial Stix EP
  • DILL 08 – Test 2 EP (On Wave Form Records)

The only addition to this list is the second release on Target Records, Underworld – The Rising, which I’ve included in the mix for completeness as DILL 05 was also a Target release… the only other Target release, as it eventuated. The Rising features the cat number KARL 001 which is interesting to those who cling nerdfully to this kind of trivia – Dillinja’s real name being Karl Francis of course. Underworld was comprised of Dillinja and Defender (of Feel It fame), whom I’ve talked about previously in an older post. I was considering including the Digital Cloning EP in the mix too, which is another Dillinja release from around the same time on Tough Toonz, but I thought that would be a bit of a stretch so I left it off. And even though the Majestic B Line EP, DILL 06, was out on Deadly Vinyl, I haven’t included the other Deadly Vinyl releases. There are other mixes on the internets with those tunes though if you want to go deeper. Here’s a smashing Dillinja retrospective mix too.

More trivia:

  • The first four Cybotron releases were all pressed with both tunes on the A side. Not sure why that happened but it means that whenever I’m searching for a record with a blank side these are the ones I know to reach for.
  • The name ‘Cybotron’ was later resurrected by Dillinja as the title of his mammoth debut LP in 2001. The sound had moved on from jungle but D was keepin’ it close to his roots. You’ll still hear classic tunes from this like All Aboard and Go Dillinja played out out at raves today.

Even from the very first release, Steal the Way / Forever Fierce, the Cybotron tracks are all distinctly Dillinja. Although those two tunes sound quite contemporary with their rave strings and stabs and chip-monked vocals to match, you still get the rough basslines and rap vocal fills that became synonymous with Dillinja’s productions later on. Things get a little darker with Lock Me Out and Dark Influence, but with From Beyond, a seething, breathing amen roller, and the funky mule-sampling Ride It Hard, Dillinja is properly in the zone. Dark Science is a fantastic 93-style dark jungle bleeps tune with similar atmospherics to the earlier From Beyond. On the flip to Dark Science is one of the more unusual tunes on Cybotron, Sinewave, which has some fairly intense stabs and weird beats that I find difficult to mix. Still quality though.

The later releases – Black Wax EP, Majestic B Line EP, Imperial Stix EP, and Test 2 EP – are all 4 trackers, except for Test 2 which is 3 tracks. It’s almost like Dillinja established the formula on the early tunes and then when into experimental overdrive once his confidence was up. It’s hard to separate the music on these EPs as they are all of very high quality, all extremely interesting, and all completely smash up the dance. It’s a dense body of work. Dillinja re-uses samples and breaks on many of these tracks which is actually quite cool as you can spot the style immediately. They may not be as technically proficient as Dillinja’s later work, particularly his tracks on Logic or Metalheadz, but it’s interesting to see the progression even just in the short year or so that these were made across. I get the feeling that Dillinja’s progress was driven as much by gear and tech upgrades through the 90s which went hand-in-hand-with intense bursts of creativity.

In spite of a notable lack of recent releases, Dillinja is still about, still in the scene, DJing at gigs quite frequently. And why not? If anyone has the right to trade on a legendary reputation it’s Dillinja. There have been noises for a while now that he is working on new tracks that harken back to the jungle days, albeit brought up-to-date with new-school production techniques. I have no idea whether or not this is still happening, but in interviews over the past few years Dillinja has made it very clear that there isn’t a lot in the music scene that truly enthuses him these days. There’s a real “over it” undertone in most of the exchanges that I’ve read, which is a shame, but totally understadable. Obviously it’s over 20 years ago now, but the rapid output and progress on Cybotron shows you what Dillinja was (and no doubt ‘is’) capable of when motivated. Here’s hoping the releases resume at some point. Luckily, we only ever look back in time on this blog so we don’t have to worry about any of this ‘future music’ nonsense.

Tracklist

Dillinja – Steal The Way
Majestic B Line A2
Dillinja – Forever Fierce
Capone + Clarky – Dark Science
Majestic B Line A1
Capone – Lock Me Out
Capone + Clarky – Sinewave
Dillinja – Ride It Hard
Capone – Dark Influence
Majestic B Line B1
Dillinja – From Beyond
Black Wax EP A1
Imperial Stix EP A2
Black Wax EP A2
Imperial Stix EP A1
Underworld – Maximum Pleasure
Imperial Stix EP B1
Dillinger – Test 2 B2
Black Wax EP B1
Dillinger – Test 2 B1
Underworld – The Rising
Majestic B Line B2
Underworld – Love Cant Turn Around
Imperial Stix EP B2
Black Wax EP B2
Dillinger – Test 2 A

Download MP3 320kbps 83 mins