Part 1: Taking On The Critics / Jazz Influences / Inward Grooving
In the mid-90s, bespectacled drum and bass producer and DJ LTJ Bukem (a.k.a Danny Williamson) was often derided for his jungle-lite Good Looking label, where sampling scenesters combined murmuring flutes, syrupy strings, and gossamer synths with slick jungle rhythms. Bukem's own Logical Progression album furthered the formula, adding to his detractor's scorn while other junglists like Talvin Singh and Squarepusher soon got all the attention.
But after five years laying low with his dog and girlfriend, Bukem returns with the extravagant soul expanse of Journey Inwards. Bukem still employs tranquil flutes, saxes, strings and electric piano, but now with funkier, beefier beats. From fusion-funk to organic trip hop to breakbeat, the busy producer pays tribute to his jazz heroes and, again, furthers jungle style. Journey Inwards retains the mellow Bukem sound, but with a more soulful, improvisational edge. Tracks like "Rhodes to Freedom," the East L.A. grooving "Inner Guidance," and the Curtis Mayfield fuzz stomp of "Sunrain" are pure 70s-meets-00 stunners. It's like Isaac Hayes in the year 2525.
Not only is Bukem making better music than ever, new technology has allowed him to record faster and with greater control and diversity than ever before. That new control, style and sound also infuses the Good Looking retrospective series, Points in Time, and new compilations Earth 4 and Progression Session 5.
Musician.com: In the jungle's early days, you were often criticized for making jungle lite. What was your response?
LTJ Bukem: Through the years, the people who haven't understood a certain style, they criticize it instead of trying to understand why they don't like it. I was part of that whole thing early on, people thought "This isn't what you are supposed to be listening to. What is this guy doing?" People are still that way, there is always someone who won't like what you do. But that is life.
Musician.com: Were you as influenced by 70s R&B as jazz fusion?
Bukem: Both, definitely. I grew up with many styles of music so you pick pieces of what you like and take it onboard with you. Soul and jazz were a big part of my upbringing.
Musician.com: The influence of Chick Corea can be heard on "Journey Inwards." Who else is part of your history?
Bukem: Lonnie Liston Smith was the biggest influence, also Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bobbi Humphreys, Curtis Mayfield, even Paulette Reeves and two step soul.
Musician.com: The grooves on Journey Inwards are very organic, like you used a combination of real drummers and machines.
Bukem: The whole lot is just me programming drum kits. I used Logic and Phantom on an Apple Mac. I didn't use anything else, just a sequencer. Some of the drum sounds are samples, some are hits. Most of the percussion on the album is me playing a shaker into a microphone, then whacking it through Recycle and chopping it up and putting it down again.