Roni Size & Reprazent

In the Mode (Island)

Record Reviews

Roni Size & Reprazent

In the Mode (Island)

It's now been three years since the arrival of Roni Size's debut New Forms, and while that may not seem like a long time in the real world, within the ever-rushing time frame of electronic music it's a century in dog years. In the interim, Size's beloved jungle has been unceremoniously dumped by the wayside by all but the form's most ardent admirers, while trance masters like Sasha & Digweed rocket to the fore. You can't keep a good junglist down, though, and In the Mode is packed to bursting with arcane beats and skittery jungle rhythms. Perhaps sensing the sudden vulnerability of his chosen field, Size has roped in a cluster of supporting players, including Rahzel, Wu-Tang's Method Man, and oddly, former Rage Against the Machine shouter Zach de la Rocha, whose adenoidal yelps highlight the otherwise unremarkable "Center of the Storm." There's way more MC-ing here than previously, with virtually all of the tracks carrying some sort of human voice above the snaking, curvy beats below. "Play the Game" wraps itself around a playful, almost Michael Nyman-esque piano loop, while the furiously paced "In and Out" sounds like the audio equivalent of a bracing game of bumper pool on speed. In the Mode is like some great artifact from the ancient past (1997), when jungle was the savior of electronica and any B-boy worth his kangol could MC the dickens out of -- and over -- anything, as long as it had that furious jungle beat. It's not so much out of date as it is out of time, sudden fodder for Madison Avenue, which is hardly the artist's fault.

*** 

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