For those who like their jungle and like it hard, Chicago DJ Danny the Wildchild unleashes an 18-track assault of rapid-fire snares and ear-melting grooves. Fans of headphone drum n’ bass may as well forget about it right now, this is pure dance floor material, and lots of it. Judging purely on mixing skills, Booked is a successful endeavor. Danny started DJ-ing while most kids his age were discovering Milli Vanilli, so listeners are in sure hands. The transitions are clean and logical, there’s a good balance of big names and lesser-knowns, and Danny moves steadily and confidently through what variation there is to be found in a genre that tends to be heavy on aggression and low on innovation. But then, the tracks aren’t meant to dazzle you creatively, they’re meant to make you shake your ass.
And judging on the booty-shake factor, Booked is more of a mixed bag. Everything’s hard, but the best tracks are the ones that come from producers who realize you can kick ass and groove at the same time. Cuts from Dope Skills and Zinc early in the mix manage to bboth bounce and bang, but themiddle portion settles into a sort of chugging, low end maelstrom with lesser selections like Flux’s “Ransack” (Good name though. Tres jungle, no?) and JG’s “Change”. Tracks like these are all aggression and no funk, and will leave all but true devotees of jungle cold. Presumably they are intended to push Booked into darker territory, but they just end up sounding weak. But the nadir of the mix comes in the form of Danny Breaks/AK 1200’s unfortunate “Deep Porn”. There’s something about listening to a song with a woman saying “Fuck me like a dog, make me bark” that leaves one feeling rather icky.
After that embarrassment, Danny rights the ship, appropriately enough, with Kenny Ken/Footmaster’s “Turnaround (Remix)” and A-Sides’ “Membrane”, tracks that feature crisp snares and steady bass lines. The remainder of Booked settles into steady two-step jungle, which is groovy enough in Mickey Finn & L Double’s “Expressions”, but too often sounds static and constipated. And for all of its hectic breakbeats, Booked leaves you feeling a little empty. These junglists may drive fast, but are they having any fun?
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times. Thanks everyone.