REVIEW: AceMo – Mind Jungle

Artist: AceMo

Title: Mind Jungle

Label: Self-Released

Release Date: March 5, 2020

In today’s jungle scene, new releases often sound like time capsules designed to take listeners back to the halcyon days of the mid-’90s. Some producers — like the slightly unhinged Phineus II even go so far as to mimic old-school studio setups. AceMo’s “Mind Jungle,” on the other hand, looks staunchly toward the future.

Adrian Mojica, the DJ and producer behind the AceMo moniker, is a multifaceted artist at the center of New York City’s new club vanguard. Alongside frequent collaborator MoMA Ready, AceMo has been churning out raging techno that often spills over into adjacent genres, like electro, footwork and (you guessed it) jungle. Last summer, the duo took jungle to the forefront of their sound when they teamed up with skateboard magazine Jenkem to put out a 4-track EP featuring two expertly crafted breakbeat tunes in the vein of golden-era Good Looking Records.

While AceMo’s earlier work has often leaned toward jungle with its rapid-fire snares and breakbeat snippets, “Mind Jungle” is fully immersed in the genre. At the same time, AceMo’s approach shows the sensibilities of a techno producer, relying more on subtle shifts than in-your-face edits and effects. In contrast to the chaotic energy that powers many jungle tunes, the percussive side of “Mind Jungle” feels symmetrical, even when the drums are rolling and stuttering. But that doesn’t mean “Mind Jungle” falls back on the stripped-down 2-step patterns of drum ‘n’ bass either. With crisp 808s and 909s supplementing classic breaks, it sounds as if AceMo is trying to bend the conventions of jungle toward the cerebral sides of techno and electro.

Those genres also seem to inform the melodic side of “Mind Jungle.” Rather than the transposed pads or time-stretched soul samples that often appear in jungle, AceMo works with soaring arpeggios on nearly every track. Baraka’s classic “I’ll Be There” and the latest from Tim Reaper share some compositional similarities, but AceMo’s blend of jungle and techno has a distinctive flavor. “Mind Element” in particular, with its haunting synth line, speedy cymbal work and crushing Amen, showcases the power of AceMo’s hybrid style.

While not all of the tracks on “Mind Jungle” use that formula — take for example the catchy chord changes on “Melting Jungle,” or the warped keys on “Jazz Junglist” — the songs have enough in common to give the album a consistent sense of atmosphere from start to finish. With its synthetic tones and melancholic passages, listening to “Mind Jungle” feels a bit like stepping into a work of dystopian science fiction. Or maybe, it’s just a sonic reflection of the world we’re living in.

-Joe Rihn

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