One of the very first major faces in drum 'n' bass music, LTJ Bukem has always enjoyed the spacier, spiritual side of the breakbeat arena. Known for weaving atmospheres and moods using a mixture of almost jazzy pieces and tribal rhythms, Bukem has been both prolific and successful. This Producer set is one of a clutch of recent Bukem releases and serves up a tasty nine-track sampler illustrating how Bukem works his technology yet manages to retain a thoroughly organic sound with his electronic creations. Opener "Cosmic Interlude" (Bukem, like many drum 'n' bass stalwarts, has a fascination with outer space and science fiction) is a peaceful, downtempo arrangement of jazz and hip-hop; "Demons Theme" sees Bukem kick into heavier tribal break beats; while the superb acid-house-tinged undertow of "Atlantis" offers a view to the early days of breakbeat. Rarely hardcore, always evocative, passionate, and certainly innovative in the drum 'n' bass world, the flavors that comprise LTJ Bukem's work are admirably represented here. --Steffan Chirazi
"The Poets of Thought" start the ball rolling with the Jazz/Hip-Hop Fusion of `The Rhyme goes on', heavily influenced in its construction by jazz, it's as contemplative as it is soothing, backed by ghost-like horns arrangements with a steady textured breakbeat underpinning the whole thing, it's the musical equivalent of driving through the city late at night. "Appaloosa's - Travelling" shifts the musical focus into more traditional territory, with restrained Jungle, increasing the BPM significantly, and the drum patterns here, will be familiar to all with a long standing history with Drum `n' Bass/ Jungle, but just as the prospect of any experimentation appears slim, the track bursts into an simple elegant keyboard chord that coupled with the looped high-hat drums & synth melodies presents a interpretation of jungle that is less `Jump up' and a more a refinement & less abrasive jungle sound, fused with ambient breakbeat.
"The Poets of Thought" again contribute another sublime effort, but this time the paring of Latin-Jazz & eloquent Samba, that largely make up this track, and rhythmic drum patterns make for a energetic fusion of the Brazilian music, this is largely instrumental and a studiously interesting inclusion on this album and not only shows bukem's musical influences are far more wide reaching then Drum `n'Bass, but that, this track could stand proud on any Brazilian/Cuba themed musical collection.
"Pablo's - Do what you Gotta Do" takes the Jazz influenced Drum `n' Bass of someone like `Peshay' (or indeed Bukem's own work), and throws down hypnotic bass & piano arrangments, integrated with a with an (almost) improvisational Jazz aesthetic, this is possibly most familiar to those that follow the intelligent breaks / Intelligent Dance music scene, and is as polished as it is beautifully arranged with these Jazz/Breakbeat crossover tracks. And anyone that still believes that Drum `n' Bass is squarely suited to the Dance floor would do well, to listen to this fantastic effort.
It's wouldn't be a Bukem Compilation without one of Bukem's own tracks, and thankfully he's realised that everything complied on this album is of an incredibly high standard, and thus wheel's out his 9 Minute Epic "Moodswings", to make sure he's not upstaged by the various artists. And being a Bukem track, not only is it beautifully expressive, but it also has that seemingly unmistakable `Bukem' stamp all over it. Moodily paced, meticulously devised, and looking to deliver something that works just as well as `Head noddingly catchily composed music, it's slow almost Electronica tempo and Jazz keyboards sits wonderfully with `Pablo's' ambient Breaks track in representing sublime Electronic / Downtempo Beats on an album with a fairly eclectic tracklisting.
Anyone looking at this album and seeing the `Bukem' Name on the front and (quite reasonably) expecting a continuation of either his "Logical Progression" or "Progression Sessions", will undoubtedly feel a little let down. That's because this isn't really a continuation of either of those series of albums, and more a broad spectrum of various forms of music that not only have incorporated Drum `n' Bass in its various forms, but (more than likely) some of the musical styles that have influenced Bukem, and judging by how his music is constantly referencing Jazz/Soul/Funk, this probably is the case. If there are any criticisms with the album, then the album isn't sequenced with regards to continuity....leaping one minute from sophisticated Jazz-Funk to Jungle/Breakbeat the next, and those expecting bass driven music will also maybe what to look elsewhere, as the mood is generally far too slow, to recreate Bukem's legendary live sets. But as a collection of sublime music that shows Drum `n' Bass has the potential to show a more soulful side, this ranks with the `Logical Progression' & "Progressive Sessions" albums.