Trev’s “Of The Sorcerer” is, for me, the quintessential bruk burner. On first listen, I pulled three digital rewinds on some “what the eff is this mental business” type steez. It’s the fourth track on the new double album—a bass weight collection—CoOp Presents Plug One, a veritable feast of global broken beat talent from in and around the world, clocking in at about 90 minutes.
I don’t know much about who this Trev producer is, but he’s connecting the past, dragging it forward, flexing soupy consistencies—real murky type funk—into what lies ahead. Horn stabs at the top, swirling psychedelic melodies, chunky slick basslines leading us down the rabbit hole, some type of jazz-fusion cooldown section, and then straight back to the horn stabs. It put me out, on my proverbial sonic ass. Dead to rights. And I’d never heard of him before—which I believe is the idea.
IG Culture and Alex Phountzi, founders of the classic club night and CoOp label, prolific producers of UKG in their own damn right, keep putting these CoOp EPs and comps in the air, letting the globe know who’s next on the come up. It’s a move that actualizes preserving the movement and culture, locking in that quality control, a relentless project not focused on ego. This certain type of humility and pure dedication is one that American hip-hop could certainly use.
But why does music from the late ‘90s still get love from teenage producers in 2020? IG Culture, founder of the landmark New Sector Movements, sees its limited popularity as its greatest strength. “Bruk music is a mainstay—it’s a classic genre,” he told Sound Of Life earlier this year. “And because it wasn’t mainstream, to a younger generation its new music anyway.” Makes sense. Back to Trev—within four minutes and change “Of The Sorcerer,” the song assures modernity on one of the biggest underground styles of bass music—one still rooted in the Soundsystem culture and the African Diaspora—has evolved from whence it began in the late ’90s. It’s a progression that’s for the funk’s best. Done with love.
Straight-away, before we get into the descriptive click-clack talk, onomatopoeia, and verbal alliteration, “Bruk,” or sometimes “Brok,” is a strain of jazz-infused broken beat nurtured within West London’s deepest musical pockets. For the curious DJ, it’s a superpower all its own. You can take this music, and mix it into hip-hop, drum and bass (if you got dem skills), house, techno, reggae, dancehall, IDM, bass music.
Why? Bruk at its highest point is Africa, the melting pot of all of the microclimates inspired by that continent. Plug One adds UK funky, grime and soca influences to the bubble and shake concoction, and it works. Pardon the politics, but when you listen to Nubya Garcia play, most times she’s working at a certain meter, a skip-step timbre, a vibration real close to broken beat. This beautiful new generation of jazz players were raised on all the iterations of bass music, so jazz now rides with Soundsystem culture. The future does look beautiful, inclusive.
This compilation never lags throughout its 17 tracks, from “Hot Shot” by Xtra Brux with the attacking rhythms aimed, locked, and precise with that tense, fierce “bounce-bounce” and the proper amount of “yardy chat” to go along with it. “Boss Slug” by Wonky Logic, swings with a humid Phuture-boogie feel, it’s a hybrid that puts us in 2024 with flying cars and squirty basslines. “My Piano” from James Rudie gives up that funk-stepper jazz in some type of house formation.
“Wriggle Shuffle,” from Szajna, is a real colossus amalgam that succeeds with the built for dancefloor grandeur supplied by the energy from jungle, footwork, and OG snares that come off original but sound familiar in this modern exhibition. That “Amen” break gets broken off, without oldster connotations. Bongo-claps accent new directions, and the proper vocal snippet at the end declares, “Don’t fear Jungle and Jungle won’t fear you.” Dude is, properly, not just talking about music.
Label: CoOp Presents
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to Treble since 2018. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in The Wire, 48 Hills, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK and Drowned In Sound.