October 16, 2013

Max Bell is also a scholar of the early work of Jungle from Queensbridge.

There’s a treasure trove of Bandcamp gems waiting to be mined. And, like once-lost ‘45s spun by the likes of Peanut Butter Wolf and Dam-Funk, someday there will be a group of digital diggers unsatisfied with their cloud storage and Spotify playlists who will unearth them for the people projecting 3-D DJ sets into their living room. But, while music blogs still exist, don’t let Jungle get lost in the shuffle.

Jungle is billed as a “collective.” Yet, as far as I can tell, they’re a duo: two undeniably funky and soulful Londoners in forest green Adidas tracksuits who spend their time away from the studio wherever people still roller disco. Their first EP, due out on B3SCI Records on October 21st and available on limited-edition 10” clear vinyl, is entitled The Heat. It’s a title both declarative and assured; one with an inherent promise that, if unfulfilled, would prompt derision for its hubris. Fortunately, with three of the four tracks on the EP playable on Jungle’s bandcamp, it’s safe to say they’ve delivered — the heat has been brought.

Each song is so fully realized, so concise and carefully crafted, that all demand numerous replays. These are contemplative affairs; meditations on groove rather than the all-out disco-funk of say Chromeo. And though the brevity of each song on The Heat works in terms of immediacy, I find myself wishing they’d go on for ten minutes. Maybe that was the intention: to leave the listener wanting more.

“Platoon” is what I imagine TV on the Radio would sound like if they abandoned all the distortion and the static in favor of bare bones rhythm. There are soft handclaps, shakers, and wind chimes, all of which poignantly underscore what essentially is a subdued burner about the sad realities of war.

“Drops” is Jungle’s bluesy soul. There’s a bounce, but it’s one played to the beat of a bleeding heart. The vocals both complement the keys and mimic the organ. And it’s rare that someone can make a lyric as clichéd as “I’ve been loving you for too long” seem fresh. Yet Jungle pull it off by keeping it simple, allowing the door creaks and lock clicks in between to suggest all they would to the scorned lover left alone in bed to the wee hours of the morning.

And title track “The Heat” is, as I said above, self-explanatory. This is funk and groove made for dimly lit disco balls, ovoid parquet floors, and roller skates, for those breakers still going under the faint streetlight after the block party has been called on account of rain.

At this point, I can only speculate as to what “Lucky I Got What I Want” will sound like. For now, I’ll just assume that title says it all and that it will be pretty, pretty good.

The videos for “Platoon” and “The Heat” are below the jump. One features the best (and youngest) b-girl you’re likely to see this month. The other features the men who make music under the Jungle moniker engaged in all manner of roll bounce. Bookmark them for posterity.

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