Jungle’s 'Jungle': What You Need To Know
What’s the background?
Jungle first emerged on the scene - as many acts do these days - via the internet, when last year they posted a video to Youtube for their debut single ‘Platoon’, featuring only a 6-year-old b-girl named Terra busting some impressive dance moves to the song’s lazy funk groove. By now, that same video has had more than 850,000 views and has seen the young dancer become a rising star in her own right, having been interviewed recently by Ellen DeGeneres for her primetime U.S. talk show.
What the video doesn’t feature, along with those that accompany their subsequent singles, is the artists themselves. Instead, the videos to tracks like ‘Busy Earnin’ and ‘The Heat’ feature the likes of rollerskating dance duo High Rollaz. Earlier this year when we requested photos of the act themselves, we were sent an assortment of photos featuring the people in the videos, but not of the duo rumoured to be behind the music, known only as ‘J’ and ‘T’. Who were these mystery musicians?
They’ve since insisted that the anonymity thing came about by accident – the result of not having thought to prepare any press photos and instead sending stills of the videos they’d put so much work into. Either way, if we’ve learned anything from Daft Punk, it’s that the public is still intrigued by a hidden identity.
After a couple of singles they signed to XL and next week finally sees the release of their highly anticipated, self-titled debut LP.
Who’s producing it?
Jungle are essentially a production duo that has expanded into a collective for the purposes of playing live, so J and T themselves are handling all the production duties on the record, churning out a unique blend of laid back funk, soul and hip hop-influenced beats that are often as hypnotic as they are infectious.
What are the standout tracks?
Jungle really have put together a blinder of a debut here and it’s tricky to pick obvious standouts on an album that is so consistently strong, but if you held a gun to our heads we’d probably have to pick ‘Platoon’ as one of them, along with another of the singles ‘Busy Earnin’. Elsewhere, among the unreleased tracks, there’s the dreamy closing salvo 'Lemonade Lake', the 80s-tinged funk of ‘Crumbler’ and the euphoric, synthesizer-drenched ‘Julia’. Really though, this is the kind of album you can – and should – play from start to finish.
Does it deliver?
Jungle packs a range of influences into its 40-minute runtime without ever being retro or revivalist. Instead, it combines sounds reminiscent of everything from the funky pop vibes of Chic and Miami Sound Machine to the smooth, soulful hip-hop grooves produced by the likes of RJD2. It manages to be eclectic and yet still completely fresh, and while there’s clearly a level of maturity in the production, there’s still a lot of experimentation happening on the record that really gives you the impression it was a lot of fun to make. It remains to be seen if this kind of record has an appeal broad enough to make it a genuine chart-topper, but it deserves to be; it’s not just one of the best records of the year so far, it’s also the most impressive debut album we’ve heard in a long, long time.