Going back to their jungle drum 'n' bass roots, and having a hell of a time doing it...

It’s been two years since Chase and Status – Will Kennard, Saul Milton and now MC Rage – released their last album, ‘Tribe’. While that record harked back to their drum ‘n’ bass roots more than other recent projects, ‘‘RTRN II JUNGLE’ is a true, well, return.

Inspired by the ‘90s jungle drum ‘n’ bass that first got them into making music, the group spent a week in Jamaica recording a series of original dancehall tracks with a wide variety of artists. They sampled these tracks – in the way the first generation of jungle DJs would have sampled from old Jamaican dancehall records – and cut them with new beats, to build a new jungle drum ‘n’ bass album.

Opening with a distorted public service announcement on the radio – perhaps a nod to pirate radio’s pivotal role in jungle music’s rise – a clipped BBC-style voice acts as an intro to the project, describing how “fast drums and heavy bass” are sweeping across London.

This could be read as either a memory from the past – remembering the first wave of jungle – or a statement of intent: Chase And Status want to help jungle rise again.  

First instalment, ‘Shut Up’, rapidly ramps up the anticipation of a heavy drop. Rolling, building percussion and Suku’s assertive delivery spins hypnotically.

Following is General Levy feature, ‘Heater’, with an infectious hook and over-looping lyrics spat at the iconic reggae toaster’s infamous speed.

Later we’re hit with more explosive and memorable cuts, particularly ‘Program’ with Irah, ‘Murder Music’ with Kabakah Pyramid and ‘Bubble’ with New Kidz – fizzing percussion lending itself to the track’s name – and the jagged bass of ‘Delete’ with ‘80s-‘90s dancehall DJ Burro Banton. The record is joyous in its back-to-basics rave atmosphere. 

By updating an iconic UK genre with a 2019 twist, ‘RTRN II JUNGLE’ is a return for sure.

8/10

Words: Laviea Thomas

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