My Nu Leng’s latest EP Junction is an announcement: no matter how much popularity the Bristol duo may gain within one scene or another, their music will never be easily tied to one category. The four-track release represents the latest in a six-year slew of genre-fluid projects from the pair, whose penchant for reanimating established sounds drawn from across the UK’s electronic underground has positioned them as bass music’s foremost fusionists.
Following 2017’s Portal EP (a drum-and-bass drop on Shogun Audio), Junction finds the outfit’s signature hybridizing production at its most mature and dynamic to date. The result? A record that will shatter dancefloors and educate eardrums at the same time. “We try to keep true to what inspires us and makes us tick,” say Tommy and Jammo. “This EP took a long time to finish but that is due to wanting it to be as real as possible; although they’re all around the 130bpm mark, each track has influences from a lot of different UK underground scenes.”
Eponymous first track ‘Junction’ patches a hectic swirl of laser-like synths to a tight 4×4 groove, with breakbeat fills and “Make some noise!” callouts that bring phrases together with seamless dynamism and evoke oldschool rave nostalgia. “We have always been influenced by the rave culture,” say MNL, “especially the drum and bass scene. We wanted to tap in to that more on this EP and we think that really shows in ‘Junction’.”
This sonic era-referencing continues on ‘Super 8’, a speed garage-channeling shapeshifter of a track which drifts and swerves through a rich range of textures, complete with a delayed second drop and retro vocoded atmospherics for good measure. “We wanted this EP to be varied, but also a nod back to our earlier sounds,” the duo explain. That ambition can certainly be felt on the EP’s first two tracks, both of which renew the dark futurism of early Leng releases like ‘The Grid’ with echoes of the analog nineties. The touches of synthesis are light enough that, even at their most wonderfully schizoid, these impressions of old and new are intermixed in flawless harmony.
The second half of Junction showcases the Bristol boys’ affinity for collaboration. “We have worked with two amazing vocalists in Takura and Madi Lane, as well as [bassline producer] Holy Goof.” ‘Gully’, assisted by Holy Goof and Takura, is the record’s face-screwing, balls-out banger. Where the three other tracks prove their producers’ agility, this one finds them flexing their muscle, with a brutal dual octave bassline melody that swings from a tireless, stomping groove like a guillotine mapped to a metronome. It’s impossible to imagine a rave in which this tune will not take the roof off. “The music has been going down really well in the sets,” the boys reveal, “so we’re looking forward to getting it out there.”
If ‘Gully’ represents the duo at their most masterfully mischievous, final track ‘Turn Around’ gives us a look at a new My Nu Leng, a striking departure from all previous form that, more than any of the EP’s four tunes, signals a genuine evolution in their approach to writing and production. “We think the only change is just maturing as producers and DJs,” they say of the difference they felt making Junction. “As we grow older with our music, we love looking back and listening to the growth over the years. This EP is a good indication of where we are in 2018.” With soulful vocals from Madi Lane, emotionally charged breakdowns, and Benton-like breakbeats that smack you right in the face, ‘Turn Around’ makes the duo’s 2018-space sound like a great place to be.
That Junction weaves and bobs its way out of straightforward categorization should come as no surprise: these guys have been rejecting the rules of genre for years. By the sounds of it, things show no signs of slowing down any time soon. “We’re sat on lots of exciting music and projects, which we can’t wait to release.” Who knows what to expect next from My Nu Leng? All that can be certain is it’s a mystery keeping the culture on its toes.
Words: Jake Mier