- With a junglist resurgence in full swing, Lee Bannon's timing couldn't be better. Until now, the New York-based artist was known for his hip-hop productions and his work with Joey Bada$$. On his first record for Ninja Tune, though, he goes full-bore jungle. This move might seem out of leftfield were it not for Bannon's childhood stint in Sacramento, a city where the spirit of the jungle (and its child drum & bass) has long burned strong. Alternate/Endings reconciles old school jungle with modern hip-hop, particularly the more cannabinoid strains of cloud-rap. The result is one of the most welcomely surprising records in recent memory.
From the first moments of "Rezorectah," the breaks sound like they're trying to slice right through you. But after that pummelling intro, the track dissipates into ambience—a gaseous, wispy atmosphere that carries haunting melodies on its chilly breeze. By the time you get to the punishing jungle madness of "NW/WB," with its hoover synths and blaring horns, it's clear that Alternate/Endings is a dynamic record. As prevalent as amen breaks are on the LP, more often than not Bannon is holding the chaos back rather than letting it rip. The psychedelic "Phoebe Cates" maps out jungle in a slower, almost trap-influenced structure, while standout "216" flirts with Lex Luger style hi-hats, letting them naturally morph into breaks. Bannon isn't afraid to twist the sound into new shapes.
Alternate/Endings is ruled by the sticky humidity of its ambient passages. On "Bent/Sequence," a Burial-esque soundscape threatens to outshine the sterling drum work, all rainy-day melancholy and gasped vocals. Fans of Lee Gamble's Diversions will find something to like here—imagine if that record gave in to its more rhythmic desires. And thanks to its quieter passages, Alternate/Endings breathes in and out gradually, never lingering or sprinting for too long. The album reaches its climax with "Readly/Available," a ten-minue track that showers the listener with breaks then simply lets everything drift off in space. Like the record as a whole, it's sublime.
04. Shoot Out The Stars And Win
06. Phoebe Cates
09. Value 10