Since the beginning of the pandemic, online music marketplace Bandcamp has waived their revenue share for all sales on every first Friday of the month. This meant that on every Bandcamp Friday for the past two years, an average of 93% of money spent on the website went directly to the artists. The result was an impressive community turnout: producers and labels have released an overwhelming amount of music, and buyers have stepped up in large numbers to support their favourite artists during uncertain times for the industry.
On the 6th of May, with the occasion of the final instalment of Bandcamp Friday, leading contemporary jungle label Future Retro London put out a triple release – two 12’’ records and one 10’’ vinyl, all in limited edition and accompanied by their respective digital versions.
FR004 starts with label owner Tim Reaper’s previous collaborator FFF on the A-side. Bad Vibes is an old school combination of chopped up breaks and deep 808s underneath a lush pad, and it features a nice change of pace towards the end, while Bookworms uses both dubby and hardcore vocals to achieve the right balance of tension and release. The B-side is provided by Dwarde, one of the most consistent modern jungle producers, who has released over 50 collaborations with the Future Retro boss alone. It’s a real challenge to not bob your head to Wilderness, with its cave-like ambiance and soft flute contrasted by fast-paced cuts and heavy bass hits, while Saturn Situations’ is a true trip through space, with a vocal sample announcing your entrance in Saturn’s Rings, followed by a rapid succession of breaks and bass which makes you feel like you’re narrowly dodging space debris.
FR005 features yet another friend of the Future Retro family, Australian producer Kloke, who delivers three representative tracks along with a remix. Tuff Luv starts the EP off on a dreamy note, with rich and soulful harmonies on top of a carefully cut apache break, quite reminiscent of early liquid or so-called “intelligent” drum and bass and the genre’s transition from jungle. Bliss Machine brings a bit more energy to the A-Side through its bassline, although the melodic pads stay just as warm and fuzzy, making for a paradoxically intense, yet relaxing listening experience. Kloke’s choice for the B-Side remix is Sheffield-based producer Kid Lib, who manages to make Tuff Luv harder-hitting through a more modern approach to the low-end and crispier percussion, while also keeping the melodic elements just as impactful. Lastly, Future Dayz ends the record in a darker, more mysterious manner, one that makes you think of older Metalheadz or Source Direct.
Following suit, FR006 is a 10’’ consisting of two modern jungle remixes of 1993 darkside classics which have been doing the rounds for a good while now. On the A-side, Ricky Force updates Intense’s already brutal and forward-looking Time Space Continuem, turning it into a higher definition bone-rattling piece of fast-paced club music. With deeper lows, snappier cuts, and keeping the same iconic breakdown midway through, this is definitely a highlight of the relatively new and emerging label. Once you flip the record over, you’re met with Mr Sensi’s version of Twisted, by Invisible Man. This track starts off with a massive intro and continues with a relentless break sequence that manages to stay surprising and engaging at the same time, making for an appropriate, complementary flipside.
Re-releasing tracks that are almost 20 years old is no easy feat, yet Future Retro London have managed to do so, on top of providing new music from fresh artists, and for that we can only be grateful. To see the records described in this review, as well past and upcoming releases, check out their Bandcamp, and to listen you can go onto their Youtube, Soundcloud, or Spotify playlist.