It Is The Best Ones (freakytigger) wrote,
It Is The Best Ones

100: 90s No.89 - SPRING HEEL JACK - "Where Do You Fit In?"

The first jungle 12" I ever bought. I called it 'jungle' though it barely was - most SHJ tracks were soft-soled ambient washes with politely bustling breakbeats, or else they were far too busy and never quite worked. If there was any injustice in their never making it massive (as they would occasionally claim) it wasn't that they were sealed out by the London drum'n'bass mafia, more that as the crew who hit this icy territory first, they deserved more respect for their pioneer spirit than they ever got for their music.

They certainly never again made a record as great as "Where Do You Fit In"/"Life In The Freezer", though. Five years on, it sounds as lonely and strange as the day I first put a needle to it. "Where Do You Fit In?" - its worried grooves beg the answer 'nowhere' - is drum and bass with hardly any bass, and with the drums a stark, slow clatter.The rhythms are taut, true ninja tunes: your senses heighten, your body becomes stealthy. Behind the tiny fragments of spaceman-talk and these eternally poised beats hang huge, numbing keyboard figures. This was released before the rulebook on how to make 'artistic' drum and bass was fully written, and sounded as fresh as it did eerie: the quality comes not from the record being a smoothly aesthetic fusion of tasteful elements, but from the slight dissonance between rhythm and sound - the way each bit sounds like it comes from a record just sideways from the others. "Where Do You Fit In?" sounds as discomfited as the title suggests, an elegant wallflower at the hardcore party.

Another casualty of my lack of turntable, I can't tell you whether this record is still good (though if anyone can set me up with an MP3 I'd be grateful) - in memory though it's immense and I was surprised to find myself placing it so low.

The odd comments about SHJ thinking they should have been massive are probably more in reference to, say, Photek's success than any kind of resentment over "The Sea Lettuce" not charting.

The chronology of this era was vague to me then and is even vaguer now - were SHJ pioneers? I don't really know, but I do think this particular record was doing something quite unusual. All these ideas of pushing into new territory, etc. seem a little naive now - not every new territory deserves to be colonised, and "Where Do You Fit In?" is maybe best remembered as a curious thing-in-itself rather than 'breaking new ground'.

Aside from the "true ninja tunes" bit - where I know exactly what I was trying to say but I'm not sure I actually said it - my description of this is pretty good, I think.

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