LIKE PUNK BEFORE IT, JUNGLE MAY be the soundtrack to the metropolis but its true heartland has always been the deathly dull suburbs and stagnant commuter towns that circle London rather than the place itself.
From Bukem and Waxdoctor to Photek and Urban Takeover, the kids with nothing better to do and no clan loyalties to appease have consistently kept jungle and drum’n’bass evolving into fresh new identities.
And although Luton’s Tony Bowes, aka Justice, is no kid, having already clocked up some eight years making tunes for practically every d’n’b label that ever walked the earth, the same applies. He’s retained an undiluted, idiosyncratic approach that lends ‘Viewpoints’ an air of the unclassifiable and unique.
In fact, if it weren’t for his history, Justice’s debut album would probably be mistaken as one of those waywardly inventive electronic LPs that usually gets dumped in the ‘left-field’ category. The sounds are so unapologetically synthetic and the beats so machine-made that the soaring heights of vintage Detroit techno come more to mind than Goldie and Roni Size.
Meaning that, despite all the heart-tugging strings and wistful digital flourishes flying around, most of the 11 tracks here maintain enough of a rough, straight-from-the-studio edge to keep them safe from the evil clutches of blandness. There is a bit of over-indulgence here and there – hip-hop-styled opener ‘Breaker One Nine’ and the spiralling, Orbital-esque ‘Perspex’ benefit from the same firm hand that the over-repetitive ‘Transit’ lacks. But in the main, this is both a subtly endearing and bravely different record.