Spend a minute listening to jungle and you’ll feel its torrential power right away: the immediacy of whiplashing breakbeats; the incessant drive of sinuous melodies; the triumphant integration of Black music, from jazz to ragga to techno to hip hop. The genre was in constant dialogue with everything else in the “hardcore continuum” during the early-to-mid ’90s, and the consequent expansion of UK dance music’s boundaries was fast-paced and exhilarating.
Banoffee Pies White Label Series 01 is a mighty 12" because its four tracks avoid lazy, nostalgic rehashing; these songs may feature hallmarks of classic jungle and drum and bass, but there’s no cutting corners. This makes sense given the presence of Tim Reaper, a prolific and remarkably consistent producer from London. He’s a real head—check his YouTube uploads—and is something of a poster boy for contemporary jungle, having managed to crossover to audiences less jungle-inclined. He’s joined here by previous collaborator Comfort Zone, and together they showcase a masterclass in jungle production.
Opener “All the Time” shows off their chops: Across six minutes, Reaper and Comfort Zone utilize the classic Think Break to anchor a song ornamented with glossy synth chords, fluttering woodwinds, and soulful vocal samples—pure decadence. Elements constantly arrive and disappear, an exchange that keeps everything light. Such airiness is key to the song’s simultaneously loose and linear sense of movement; when heady bass or flecks of punchy vox enter the proceedings, it feels both subtle and surprising. There’s a finesse to the introduction of synth blips, a hard-edged beat turn, or a fake-out ambient move. As the song progresses, a joy accumulates in hearing everything in flux: It feels alive on a microscopic level.
While “All the Time” thrives because of its unrelenting sense of possibility, “Touchdown” finds unexpected beauty in its offbeat linkages. There’s a dash of humor to it: The producers utilize the oft-sampled loon, and its reverberant warble primes the listener for the textural and emotional similarities between it and the rest of the instrumentation, from the psychedelic ebb-and-flow of synths to the resonant cries of vocal samples, even the stuttering of the breakbeat’s snare rolls. Reaper and Comfort Zone use excess economically, treating every sound as a piece of a grand puzzle. And with “Touchdown,” the loon sample goes beyond mere decoration—it’s the lens through which the entire song comes into focus.
The back-and-forth synth melody in “Pacific” serves a similar purpose. The dotted rhythm meanders while the song’s atmospheric passages drift aimlessly, yet all this is set straight with an abrasive and pummeling breakbeat. When the synth melody reappears in the second half, it brings the type of clarity you find after painful soul-searching. “Sherpa,” on the other hand, serves straight-up vibes. While its brooding vocal samples and alien synths have a retro-futuristic aura, it’s really a showcase for the breakbeat itself—every crisp snap and hi-hat shuffle is magnified, and the song often feels like a jazzy drum solo. It’s a representation of what Reaper and Comfort Zone do best on BPWL01: They prove each element counts by finding excitement in every single sound.
Buy: Rough Trade
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