BUKEM'S COSMIC INTERLUDE
"To be happy, there is no other thing, no other feeling. I don't have any other opinion. And I'm certainly happy right now, because of what we've achieved, and what we're doing".
He is the Neil Armstrong of Jungle, he has been referred to (by Omni Trio's Rob Haigh) as the Derrick May of Hardcore. Daniel Williamson, aka LTJ Bukem, has made a huge impact on the way we listen to Drum 'n' Bass. He has created records which will remain timeless.
Since the late eighties, Bukem has steadfastly refused to be influenced by changing trends in dance music. "I called my first tune 'Logical Progression'. That's what it was at that stage. It was time for the music to move on".
Now he unleashes another spanner into the Drum 'n' Bass works - Earth Volume Two. The latest offering could only be described as "future Jazz". There are nine tracks in total, yet only two of them could be described as Jungle or Drum 'n' Bass. There are 110/120 BPM Hip Hop tracks and obscure freeform Latin-esque numbers with no fixed time signature. It sounds like Space-Time Continuum's Jonah Sharpe, jamming with a set of Blue Note musicians. Welcome to the space LTJ Bukem inhabits, far out of Earth's orbit, and deep into his own universe.
Don't be fooled. Bukem's music is not simple 'cut and paste' material. His music has been influenced by his keyboard and trumpet instructor, Nigel Crouch. "He was my mentor. I'd go around to his place, and when I'd finished my scales or whatever, he'd play me this mad Jazz stuff and it'd do my head in. Miles Davis, Bill Evans, he would teach me how to play them". Now the clubs that took the risk with him in the first place are asking him to come back and play Soul, Jazz and Funk sets. He couldn't be happier. "I've got a platform to play this stuff from now. I have always used these tunes in my work, but now I've got a chance to really do them justice, in an environment where people aren't used to it".
Bukem came under some fairly heavy ridicule early on in his career - releasing lush tracks like 'Atlantis', 'Music' and 'Horizons' at the same time that other artists in the rave scene were concentrating on dark Breakbeat and Ragga-influenced tracks. "I had it in '89 with 'Logical Progression' and I'll have it in the millennium when I'm doing whatever I'm doing. That's the way it is. When you're doing something different, something that's against the grain, then you'll have to stand criticism. But I can take that criticism because I know that ultimately I'm making music that I love and adore. You could 'cuss me out about what I do and I'll still go home and make the tune that I want to make, and I feel much better for doing it".
His music is what the rain listens to when it is crying blind. The effect the music has on the listener is a result of the heartfelt emotion he pours into everything he does. LTJ Bukem is a man that expects nothing but the best, especially from himself.
text - Gareth Richardson