Young Spuds in a Longhorn Daze

Will Hermes, May 29, 1996


Inside the fly-by-night club, it's loud. And warm. And very dark. We stumble through bodies to a bit of wall space. My friend leans over to my ear: "The rule seems to be, techno, lights on, but jungle...." Deep bass notes move through us like weather fronts, amphetamine snare beats skipping and skattering before them. This is drum 'n' bass, dance music's newest offspring.

Terri Sutton, November 6, 1996


Let's get cynical. About two months ago, prior to any U.S.-chart success, the musical style of drum 'n' bass, or "jungle," made its way into every home in America via TV commercials. It worked best hawking cars, but I swear I heard its violently fast breakbeats and techno drones coursing through self-reflective shoe and soda ads as well. The cultural implications are--to steal a phrase from the drum 'n' bass vocab--Massive! It took Motown twenty years to make car ads; it took U.K. techstep six months.

Jon Dolan, November 26, 1997


Though she won't admit to it, you can tell right away: DJ Bionic wants to be massive. Massive you say? What is this, this massive?

Massive means Massive.

Massive means it's four a.m. and she's headlining a stadium-sized warehouse rave in some beautiful future she can barely conceive. Five-thousand red-eyed, baggy-pantsed, lysergically fueled flower puppies are going out of their flower-pickin' minds, popping plugs in their ears and leaping like lemmings against backstop-sized speakers so loud they beat the kids down like Chilean storm troopers.

Massive means they fly her to Germany.

Massive means the monitors actually work and she doesn't have to bring her own fucking power strip. It means that she gets more than ten lousy bucks a set, and it means no more ten-hour-a-day temp jobs--like the one she has right now at the corporate lair of the Doughboy. Massive means masses. Massive means love....

And it's going to happen. It might be ten months from now when Bionic gets her own club residency. It might be three years from now when she stockpiles enough savings to get the right equipment together, make her own tracks, and put out a record. Sure, it might not be this Sunday when the only junglist in the now-and-again bunglist DJ gaggle, the Groove Garden Collective, does her regular gig at the 400 Bar. But it is going to happen.

Jon Dolan, April 1, 1998


But assuming we weren't dyed-in-the-wool, funk-retardant racists, Jam Master Jay's drum break and that sweet little slice of Joe Perry guitar wankery suckered us into kinda digging rap. That was until the Beasties put a jammie upside our collective cookie-puss, shook our ruuuumpa, and forced us to truly dig rap. And we know what happened next: First it was Superfly, then Sly, then "That's the Joint," and on and on until we were all ganja-goofed interns in Dr. Lee Perry's beat pharmacy. And that's what a remix should do: recontextualize not just sounds or artists but entire musical (hell, social) histories.

Jon Dolan, August 5, 1998


The buzz around [Abstract] Pack is genuine, an old combination of underground pride and reluctant pop hopefulness that one would have thought died long ago in the uphill battle to break open the local scene. Not that the crew's debut CD isn't tailored to the streets: It's grounded in jazzy, stop-sign-rattling bass figures and the usual hardcore waterfall-of-lyrics. But the lush, fluid song structures of Bousta Set It (For the Record) contrast starkly with the dirty-snare minimalism and intricate thought balloons of rappers Atmosphere and Beyond, who each released remarkable underground breakouts last year on Rhyme Sayers Entertainment.

This latest album harnesses the Pack's long-cultivated live energy and distills it into hook after hook, sprinkling local references into the mix ("Shots Paul," "Minnesota nice") for flavor. "I think they're one of the first real rap groups ready to come out of Minnesota," says Smoke D, co-host of KMOJ's (89.9 FM) Smoke & Delite radio show, which has helped push the crew into regular rotation at the station. At the very least, Abstract Pack has dropped the local hip-hop album of the year.

Peter Scholtes, August 26, 1998


[L]ike few Minneapolis musicians of the decade, [Jake] Mandell has inspired not just a national, but an international buzz. In England, he's as big as, say, R.E.M. was in 1981, or the Jayhawks in 1989. There is an excited awareness that this 23-year-old devotee of Schoenberg, Mary Renault, and the Ken Steiglitz tech-manual A Digital Signal Processing Primer might attain something akin to hipster celebrity. Parallel Processes is probably the biggest thing the Upper Midwest electronic-music scene has produced since acid house stars Freddie Fresh and DJ ESP put the "Minneapolis sound" on the international dance map five years ago.

Jon Dolan, January 27, 1999


The meeting is adjourned, and one of the most productive, efficient groups of young businesspeople you'll ever meet wanders toward Thai's bedroom down the hall and soon launches into what becomes an hourlong wrestling match. The battle royal begins with the breaking of Thai's bed frame and continues into the living room. J.R. tackles Skye, gleefully yelling "the Afro versus the Italian 'fro!" in reference to Skye's puffed-out 'do. J.R. sends him into the wall, smashing a framed picture, and for a moment it seems like common sense and rug-burn have worn the combatants down. But after a short series of tests, Skye's shoulder seems in good enough shape to begin the match anew, and he lunges into action.

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