Vividly illustrates the intelligent evolution of domestic leftfield sounds.
Lloyd Bradley 2010-07-08
Through sheer obnoxiousness and a refusal to acknowledge a world outside London dancehalls and pirate radio, grime has not only survived as a truly independent genre, but done so with enough evolution to keep it interesting. As this album vividly illustrates.
Immediately, these 13 tracks present a tightly closed door of fractured, off-centre rhythm patterns, ridden at breakneck speed by borderline unintelligible lyrics, with subject matter so parochial to the scene and the emcees themselves it’s like a weapons grade Twitter feed. Such relentlessness keeps the mainstream at arm’s length, making sure the devoted are catered for while presenting the curious with an overall vibe rather than a set of specifics. Which, ultimately, makes Jahmanji very accessible.
Once inside it’s not hard to see why Jammer has remained a respected producer on the grime scene for some 10 years, as behind each set of beats are musical ideas drawing on a much wider range of influences. (One of grime’s cornerstones is the rhythm tracks up front with the melodies propping them up, rather than the more conventional other way around.) Bad Mind People, with a prominent bass synth riff, has its roots in 1980s funk, as do Get It In and One 4 Me with their vocoder choruses and churning basslines. One Too Many, a quite bonkers hymn to drunkenness, proves he’s listened to a great deal of house music. Even the more basic grime tracks are far from simple and straightforward: 10 Man Roll crisply chops its melodic phrasing up into rhythmic devices, to become a joyously entertaining commentary on a clubbing; then Back To The 90s takes this a stage further as it densely layers beats and tunes until the jostling rhythms fall into their own urgent tunefulness.
Such musical nous is a huge testament to Jammer’s artistry, and the most conventional dance music tracks, The Beginning and Max Not Minimum, lace their woozy sweeping synths with so many internal figures and ideas that they’re up with the best of that jazz/funkish space rock that was all over the place about 20 years ago. It all adds up to living proof that, if left alone by the mainstream, leftfield music will evolve not only intelligently but quite spectacularly.
- - -