Monday, 25 June 2012

Jack to the Future

So there's this big thing happening Up North called Jackin House and standandarly the southern blogaratti haven't clocked it at all.

Jackin House, or more commonly, just Jackin (also known as/near interchangable with Electroline) is basically Electro House mashed together with Bassline at about 130 bpm, with strong influences from Speed Garage and 2-step, a bit of Dubstep and Funky, and even traces of Jungle thrown in. The other way to think about it is that Jackin is to Electro House what UK Funky is to Funky House. Either way, what most seperates it from international Electro is the presence of MCs toasting over the top of it in the vybezy, bubbling vein of old skool garage, but the truth is it runs on a spectrum, ranging from a whole-lot-of-shite that's little more than Electro House + MCs to some stuff which is far more interesting and nuum'y.

Jackin is kind of a big deal. Marcus Nasty, Godfather/Don of UK Funky has up and jumped ship:

(This is THE Jackin mix to get to know) Leed's main man Tom Zanetti has about as many Facebook fans as Joy Orbison (29,274 vs.  33,478), and in many cities across the North, Bassline is out and Jackin is in. This is a new twist, a new chapter in the 25 year history of the hardcore continuum, yet it's been getting no recognition or love from any of the usual suspects. This seems like critical neglect. 

To be fair to the bloggers, Jackin has any number of things going against it. For one the name's been taken, like, 25 years ago. Jackin shouldn't even be a genre name, it's an adjective: a type of house that jacks, which you can jack to. Popularly understood, it refers to hard hitting dancefloor Chicago trax from the 80s, which makes searching for information about this new northern stuff really difficult.

The second thing is how it bleeds into other genres at all edges, with barely any solid core to grip on to. Simon Reynolds has spoken before of this 'plausibile deniability', whereby as dance genres increasingly seek out the space between existing poles of influence rather than exploring new zones of sonic possibility, it becomes increasingly easy to deny that there's any meaningful difference between, say, Tech-Step and Neuro Funk; Jackin and Electro. Combined with this is a 'whachucallit' syndrome, where on bigtunesmp3 (a dedicated online retailer for the stuff, and from where I'm sitting down Saaf, something of its mecca) every tune is tagged mulitiple times as both Jackin and Electroline, Warper, House, Bass, and Funky, befitting the fact that Jackin is as of yet a space where many influences combine without any new sound to call all its own.

Finally is the matter of just what a parr how much of it is. Bigtunesmp3 is flooded with painfully poorly produced tunes amounting to little more than bait Electro House with some swag northern MC toasting on top of it. It's barely its own thing and most of it's shite; why would you pay attention to this scene?

Because this is nuum shit, that's why! It's a scene filling the gap left by the decline of Bassline, listened to by northern nuumy contingent of multi-racial livin-for-the-weekend ravers.

Musically it's most obvious link to the nuum is the presence of MCs toasting over the top in the champagne and good times vein or Jungle/Garage/Funky/Bassline rather than the darkside verbal pyrotechnics of Grime. But on top of this sonically, at its best it brings together the most winsome elements of the nuum's 20 something years of history in a manner neither pastiche or hauntological, but true to the spirit of rave. Tracks with a bassline/dubstep wobble are called 'wobblers'. Tracks using the Double 99/187 Lockdown Speed Garage bass warp are, fittingly, called 'warpers'. It mixes a 4x4 bounce with the shuffly Dem 2 high hats, bringing the swing and at times traces of Funky in the snares. It's got the vocal science of 2-step (see the Burkie tune above) and some tunes, like this one even bring the Ragga chat and Amen break of Jungle. On top of all these sonic signifiers are other promising signs of 'nuumental activity, not least the surfeit of cheeky pop tune bootlegs:

Though all too commonly, it lies too close for comfort to the Electro sphere of influence, it's clear that Jackin is the latest chapter in the history of the Hardcore Continuum, a summary of which now runs: Hardcore - Jungle - DnB - Speed Garage - 2-step - Grime - Dubstep - Bassline - Funky - Jackin.

And though as of yet Jackin doesn't have a sound all of its own (though that steely, hollow warpy bass is pretty distinctive), there's no reason that it can't develop one. For now, it might be fair to call Jackin one of the first Metamodernist dance scenes, neither straight forwardly postmodern/revivalist nor jetting off into a modernist future, a tension perfectly encapsulated by the first tune of the Marcus Nasty mix (A remix of Majestic's Let's Go Back, but I'm DESPERATELY searching for an ID if anyone's got it).

It starts with a skippy 4x4 garage beat while Majestic spits about the jokes old days of cheap McDonalds and Garage Raves in the early 2000s, untill he gets to these lines:

We can't go back,

That's in the past when I reminisce now 

Bring on the future, here for the day,

I'll be making music come what may.

I don't come from the Old Skool,

But I got to big up the Old Skool,

Reminiscing for times when I was younger,

To this day I still got the hunger.

And it breaks into a cavernous, space-age-shiny j-j-jackin bass riff destined for insta-wheelup and total dance duppiage. Jack to the Future? Yeah, alright then.

P.S. Big up my fellow Voodoo ravers, my boys Frankly $ick and Jack Jambie. They got me into this shit, and they're killer DJs each of them. #crewlove

1 comment:

  1. alright mate, stumbled on this post via the ra comment-conversation you reference in the post below. interesting stuff. i appreciate the dig at the southern blogerati particularly haha - easy to become jaded by the versions of uk dance music constructed between the ra-fact nexus and its parasites isn't it. in lieu of that then: what are the channels to find out about jackin? is it just a case of trawling bigtunesmp3?

    cheers mate, hope this comment doesnt get lost in the ether xx