By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
TECHNO MAY BE taking over, but as of right now, techno's subcultural soul sister, the drum'n'bass/jungle revolution, has produced about as many future stars as What's Happening did. U.K. scene-star Rupert Parkes (a.k.a. Photek) is arguably the biggest Junglist in the Jungle; he might, in fact, be the music's No. 1 candidate for face/name recognition. On his full-length debut he evinces furlongs of personality, despite a decidedly no-bullshit aesthetic and lurid approach.
The click of a cocked Glock in "The Hidden Camera" is deliciously murky and disconcertingly weird; weirder yet is the fact that it does nothing to upend the song's flow--as if implied violence was any less freaky than the thing itself. Equally spooky is "124"'s embryonic evocation of Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock," easily one of the loosest (and prettiest) tributes jungle has ever paid to its roots in Bronx hip hop. When "124" goes farther by drawing an essential link between hip hop's grooves (Jungle 101: The Breakbeat) and late-'80s Detroit techno (Senior Seminar in Jungle: Jungle as Urban Soul Music), you're left straddling a funk-history fault line. The glue-like synth noodles in "Aleph 1" and elegant '70s jazz-fusion piano tinkles in the title track, "Modus Operandi," author more legible versions of the hip hop/techno dichotomy.
This is all a loopy way of saying that, as is always the case with drum'n'bass, the fun is in the beats, and Photek's picks splurge on a helluva highbrow fête champêtre. He's almost snooty about it. "KJZ" opens with a Max Roach-on-Saturn drum solo and goes into a Ron Carter-like bass groove that's almost neo-conservative compared to the Roy Ayers-style fusak that electro-funkists usually reference. And it rolls off lusciously, as do the more standard-issue jungle rhythms in "Minoteur," "Axiom," and "Trans 7."
Will they make Photek a household name? Don't tech-no for an answer.