For the better part of 2001 this dual CD-Set was my main go-to material for most things chillout and downtempo. I first heard “Sunrain” as part of a sampler and was intrigued enough to go out and buy the physical CD from a store in Aiea, Hawaii. Years later, some of these tracks I still view as being essential to my overall active collection.
In coming up with a drink for this recording, I wanted something that, like much of “Journey Inwards”, exemplified a sense of low-key yet vibrant coolness. I also wanted something that was a bit playful and joyful. Then, in a fit of nascent Whovian inspiration, it came to me:
May I introduce to you – the Tonic Screwdriver (recipe mine):
In a cocktail mixer, shake together 1 cup of ice, 1 part Orange Juice and 1 part quality Gin (I’ve had this with Endeavor Pink from The Liberty Distillery in Vancouver and Seattle’s own Batch 206 Counter Gin); pour into a highball and add tonic to taste (I recommend 2 parts for each part of Orange Juice and Gin).
- Artist: LTJ Bukem
- Release: Journey Inwards
- Year / Label: 2000 / Good Looking Records
- Track Listing
- Disc One
- Journey Inwards
- Rhodes To Freedom
- Our World
- Undress your mind
- Point of View
- View Point
- Disc Two
- Deserted Vaults
- Inner Guidance
- Close to the source
- Suspended Space
- Unconditional Love
- Feel what you feel
- From Wikipedia:
Journey Inwards is the first full-length release by drum and bass artist LTJ Bukem which is composed entirely of his own music. It was released in 2000 as a double-CD and a quadruple-LP on Bukem’s own Good Looking Records label.
- From AllMusic:
Ten years on from the beginning of his mixing career, and following the release of literally dozens of compilations focusing on tracks and producers from his Good Looking/Looking Good empire, LTJ Bukem finally released an album of his own. As any listener who’s heard a single from any label headed by Bukem will probably be able to guess, his focus here is not quite standard drum’n’bass, but a set of earthy breaks inspired by the smoother end of ’70s jazz and fusion. Compared to the other jungle pioneers who’ve recorded expansive double-disc albums (4 Hero, Roni Size, Goldie), Bukem’s is most similar in concept and sound to 4 Hero’s Two Pages, an organic LP with midtempo breakbeats and earthy workouts for instrumentalists (not programmers). Even more than 4 Hero, however, Bukem’s focus on non-commercial, non-vocal productions is both confident and exemplary. Though it’s been easy (and perhaps, necessary) to fault Bukem in the past for aping his influences, Journey Inwards makes it practically impossible — especially in the context of these productions, so beautiful, so detailed, so precisely imagined they sound as though they’ve come straight from Heaven’s recording studio. From the shimmering waves of Rhodes keyboards and the undeniably upright bass on the title-track opener (which might be a bit too expansive in its own right), Bukem moves into true drum’n’bass with a sleek, excellent two-stepper called “Watercolours” which features a downplayed, honking sax. He often returns to the Rhodes (it must be his favorite instrument), perhaps a few times too many, but every occurrence is used with the balance just right. The breaks programming isn’t next-generation, but for each song Bukem finds a pattern that works perfectly with the effects to support it. The second disc is reportedly the downtempo disc, though it’s only marginally different from the first. It does indeed concentrate more on influences and genre exercises, from the blaxploitation bliss of “Sunrain” (one of the few vocal tracks on the album) to the soul-jazz strut of “Deserted Vaults.” Taken as a whole, Journey Inwards is an album of pure brilliance, a work that trumps many of Bukem’s past productions, and signals, for what may be the first time, that his production talents are actually growing and developing. Truth to tell, there’s never been a drum’n’bass double-album that shouldn’t have been pared down. With Journey Inwards, it’s nearly impossible to know what to cut.
- From me:
As with most of the 2-disc sets in my collection of 300+ Cd’s, “Journey Inwards” is actually 2 discs masquerading as a cohesive product. Not that the end result is not one of the finest recordings ever made, but a little consistency of vision would have helped. Disc one is very mellow, very jazzy, with as much fusion flavor as drum’n’bass. Disc two is much more ambient and smooth. The production levels are pretty consistent, although I did find the transitions of some of the loops not quite up to snuff on some tracks. As long as LTJ Bukem remains on a more jazzier groove, the individual songs are fine; when he strays too far from fusion, and launches straight into his more ambient variety of D-n-B, the results, while initially engaging, become a little tedious after the first three minutes. Still, this set, as a whole, is very relaxing, mellow, and contains some classic grooves.
For me, this is a tale of two CDs. LTJ Bukem clearly set out to make a recording full of purposeful, carefully thought out collection of Jazz and Hip Hop influenced Downtempo. For the most part, on the first disc, he did just that; the overall direction of each and every song, from the tempo and chords and keys and thoughtfully selected self-recorded samples, is on point. The songs on this side can be long (6 minutes plus), but they never feel like it, being wonderfully edited so as to stick around just long enough to make the intended statement.
Things kind of fall apart on the second disc, however. Sunrain, the first song – the only non-instrumental on the entire recording- feels like an obligatory stab at a charting effort. With the exception of Suspended Space and the closing Feel what you feel, the rest of this disc feels quite disjointed from the first, the songs overlong and giving the impressions of B-side fillers.