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Countless articles have been written about Jungle music - the English hybrid of techno, hip-hop, and dance-hall reggae - but many people have yet to actually hear the music for themselves. Artist/producer Goldie may change that with Timeless, his major-label debut.

Luckily, Goldie is the best possible link between the general public and England's Jungle underground scene. Steering away from what might be called the look-what-a-big-studio-I-have approach, he ventures into the realm of ambient jungle, combining raw polyrhythms and bizare wave forms with lush arrangements. His music retains its underground feel, but listeners can tune into its layered complexity.

One of Jungle's characteristics is the high-speed break beat, which uses digitally "chopped" samples to deliver otherworldly grooves. Goldie's skill in this area is showcased on " Angel" [241k .aiff], which harkens back to when Jungle's synth melodies were every bit as important as its beats. "Sea of tears" [249k .aiff] flows in the other direction; Goldie throws jazz guitar into the mix, perhaps to compensate for any misconceptions a listener might have.

It might be a good idea to turn the bass down a few notches before playing "Kemistry" [267k .aiff]. The song's bass lines rumble along at about half of the percussion's 160 beats-per-minute. Mercifully, Goldie reins in the track's hyperactivity with breathy female vocals fragments and warm strings, but the song's staccato rhythms still play tricks on one's ears.

In terms of accessibility, Jungle music can live up to its name all too easily. It would be overwhelming to the uninitiated were it not for artists like Goldie, who fits enough sonic information on Timeless to make it a great introduction to an exciting, quickly evolving new genre of music.

By Dan Sicko


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