For perhaps the most respected label in the drum & bass scene, a label with a collective vision to steer jungle beyond standard dance-floor fare, most Metalheadz releases actually go for pretty cheap. In fact, with the exception of perhaps four or five 12”s amongst their first 30 from the golden era, collectors can pick up most of the back catalogue for under 10 quid.
Not bad considering just about each and every one of those releases helped pioneer new sounds, new footholds in what would become a sprawling array of sub-genres.
All but lost in that sea of acclaimed tunes is a lush and lovely 12” from “the Luke Skywalker of Breakbeat”, a young J. Majik. Released in 1995, the double A-side release Jim Kutta / Needle Point Majik is a wonderful example of that first wave of Metalheadz sound. Perfectly capturing the rough with the smooth, the jazzy with the futuristic, the lush with a hint of darkness, this release serves as a wonderful snapshot into that point in time.
The A-side starts off as a neat little roller with lots of tribal-sounding percussion. It bounces along for over 2.5 minutes, lulling you into a Bukem-esque sense of security, before an unexpected thunderous bassline arrives, layered with even more breaks. The familiar guitar licks flicker and fade throughout the madness, showing a brilliant exercise in contrast.
Titled “Jim Kutta”, seemingly in reference to Jim of Source Direct fame, many elements in this track, like the drums and pads, appear heavily influenced by some early bits from the Source boys. In particular this, and this one here, (although those two are far from bargain jungle!) Perhaps it may have had some production input from Jim himself, but this is mere speculation on my half. Regardless, the influence is definitely apparent.
Finally, on the flip we have “Needle Point Majik”. I can’t think of a track with a more enticing intro, in fact, this was the first tune I fell in love with that pushed me to discover the old school sound. Once those jazzy guitars echo and dance around the female coos, I was forever hooked. Just put it on and listen for yourself, I assure you your heart will melt every time.
Like the A-side, J. Majik entices you with a lush intro before letting loose with one of the biggest throbbing subs this side of dubstep. Jay’s signature work with the Apache break is second to none here, punchy and sliced to perfection, and sounds great in the mix (especially on that intro!)
It is surely one of my favourite moments from the entire back catalogue. Pick up a copy on Discogs, this one has surprisingly low ratings and most can be had for 3 quid or less! You can also check out “Needle Point” in A Guy Called Gerald’s brilliant Essential Mix from 1995, among countless other gems.
Wishing he were born a decade earlier to attend a warehouse party without cellphones, Damo is living vicariously through tunes, in the shadow of rave’s after-effects. Firmly rooted in jungle & dub, Damo plays a wide array of styles under the hardcore umbrella on his monthly radio show “The Spectrum” out of St Catharines, Ontario.