Åmnfx - Modern Life
On his third album Vasily Skobeev returns as Åmnfx with a singularly unique take on Jungle. Abusing every familiar facet of the genre, Modern Life challenges our preconceptions of what Jungle is and can be in 2019. Fast tempos and breakbeats, Dub Reggae basslines and syncopated percussive loops, samples and synthesised effects all converge in a fresh new narrative. The first five tracks would have made an astoundingly good Jungle EP but that wasn't Skobeev's intent; like his contemporaries Mikron, Bjarki et al, who have successfully pursued boundaries undiscovered in celebrated genres, his musical explorations have produced fertile results, far bigger than a bold extended player.
Opening salvo Modern Life, a track I previously described as dark Rave, illustrates perfectly Skobeev's approach - ravey, breaky vibes but, outwith the context of the other eleven tracks, arguably not an instantly recognisable descendant of Jungle. And this line of thought can reasonably be applied to most tracks here. Essentially, he's taken the spirit of Jungle and ransacked its soul, treating the splintery wisps as inspiration. And initially we experience the exhilarating results of this dissection: dark and intense rhythms, ghostly bass and simple melodies... it's Jungle but not as we know it. Then, with tape hiss playing out the last few seconds of Far Away we reach a crossroads. With clever track sequencing, we arrive at the magnificent centrepiece Instead; a monumental composition in both length and stature with studied and hypnotic beats that carry a certain Jungle character. The drop in pace to 128 BPM though is the crucial factor in the overall success of the album's course. In exactly the same way JK Flesh turned pummelling Techno into grizzled Ambient Techno on last year's New Horizon Skobeev transforms a bunch of sharp, experimental Jungle tracks into an unexpectedly powerful and cohesive album of contemporary Jungle.
The Pause, a haunting, beatless interlude that follows Instead maintains the descending pace before, through a series of skeletal and mutant Jungle revelations, the journey reveals a new, raw facade. Piecing together the splintered remains of Jungle, alongside reconstituted 'Think' and 'Amen' breaks and 90s piano stabs (check out System) and banging basslines (especially on the satisfying Tricked) we find elements of House and Techno. An accurate reflection on how a great deal of music is made today: a marriage of myriad influences informing a new standard. And in the case of Modern Life, it's been a resounding success.
- Rating: 9/10
- Listens: 13
- Highlight: Instead
- Label: Firering
- Release Date: 12nd May 2019