LTJ Bukem
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Journey Inwards , 4/10
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Danny Williamson, a London disc jockey (co-founder of the club "Speed") who assumed the monicker LTJ Bukem, went on to become one of the leading innovators (and enterpreneurs) of drum'n'bass.

From his first single, Logical Progression (Vinyl Mania, 1990), to the "African" Demons Theme (Good Looking, 1992), for orchestral swells over tribal percussion and sampled bird calls, from Atlantis (1992), a fusion of drum'n'bass and acid-house with fluctuating keyboards and ethereal humming, to the nine-minute Music (Good Looking, 1993), the ambient compositions that changed the face of jungle music, that slowly mutates from a feast of bells to a somber cosmic drone, Bukem coined a style that incorporated soul and jazz and favored a spaced-out approach to dance.

The Progression Sessions (Good Looking, 1999) with MC Conrad and DRS, though, sent the first warning that Bukem was stuck in a timewarp.

Unfortunately, his first solo album, Journey Inwards (Good Looking, 2000) was a terrible disappointment compared with the anthologies of Good Looking artists that made him famous. Suddenly, his style sounds old-fashioned and, ultimately, obselete.

The best introduction to his art is Producer 01 (Good Looking, 2001), which collects compilation tracks, including his classics Demon's Theme, Atlantis and Music. Other highlights include: the nine-minute instrumental Cosmic Interlude, with liquid keyboards crafting a relaxed jazz-rock ambience over propulsive drumming; the nine-minute instrumental Moodswings, with trumpet swirls appearing and disappearing in a mist of steady African beats; Coolin' Out, a contrast of equatorial sounds and frantic syncopated beats; the ten-minute Twilight Voyage, with a bouncy rhythm and funky overtones; and especially the ten-minute Orchestral Jam, a cubistic deconstruction of an orchestral suite that first lends it an almost Middle-Eastern flavor and then pushes it into jazz territory. If these later tracks do not attain the transcendent balance of the early singles, and sometimes simply recycle the old ideas, they prove Bukem's knack for crafting noir psychedelic atmospheres.

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