Various Artists

INCredible: Sound of Drum 'n' Bass Mixed by Goldie

 Various Artists
INCredible: Sound of Drum 'n' Bass Mixed by Goldie
(Ovum/Ruffhouse)

The first thing you should know is that Goldie is an artist. Don't be surprised if, after he tires of making drum 'n' bass records, he becomes a superstar actor, sculptor, or painter -- because he's not just a musician. He must be taken seriously. What he does is important. Goldie himself is important. So say the liner notes to INCredible.

But anyone who sat through the classical composition "Mother" on his most recent studio album, Saturnz Return, understands quite clearly that Goldie is not the Second Coming. The grand, hourlong lead zeppelin was self-indulgent drivel, and it exploded above the runway.

On the other hand, nothing's more commendable than grand failure; it's more impressive to crash and burn than it is to sit and watch, and Goldie's importance stems from the truth that eight years ago he was cocky enough to help forge the sound of drum 'n' bass (or jungle -- the two terms are interchangeable), the menacing bump-and-step amalgam of breakbeat, hardcore techno, hip-hop, dub, and whatnot.

INCredible is an authoritative glimpse at the British drum 'n' bass scene of the '90s. There is no better double-disc representation of the seeds of the movement. Goldie was at the heart of a school of drum 'n' bass that would eventually take center stage; it was he -- along with 4Hero, Grooverider, and Doc Scott, all represented on this mix -- who gave the music a texture that was absent in the in-yer-face barrage of the earliest music.

The heart of all jungle is, as the genre's name implies, drum and bass. The most overtly synthetic of all electronic dance music, jungle's commonalities are its stutter-step, full-force snare snaps, some of which are generated at a breakneck 200 beats per minute, and an underlying low-end bass that moves in half- or quarter-time and most closely resembles the deep sound of Jamaican dub. On INCredible the minute differences between each song's drum beat and bass melody reveal themselves more fully than they would if one were listening to individual singles; hearing all the cuts in a row helps the novice understand the language.

While Goldie's mixing skills are at times embarrassing, his good taste is never in doubt. On landmark, transcendent jams like Alex Reece's "Pulp Fiction," Source Direct's "Sculptures Hide" and pretty much anything by Doc Scott, the rush is palpable, and at a loud volume, rolling down the avenue of your choice, there's no better music on the planet. -- Randall Roberts

 
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