Saturday 26 March 2022

DJ Crystl: Dee Jay Recordings 1993

To me Dj Crystl is one of the great sound designers of the jungle era. Perhaps Pete Parsons aka Voyager, his engineer and right hand man deserves some credit here too. The tunes below display a producer at the peak of his powers going from strength to strength like Omni Trio, Foul Play, 4Hero and Goldie all were at roughly the same time. While Dj Crystl's 1993 was brilliant choon-wize and his 1994 was also pretty good, it was the following year things just did not blow up for him how they were supposed to as jungle ballooned into Drum & Bass. Crystl somehow missed the momentum and it felt like his potential was never fully realised. Like is there several albums worth of material that never got released? What happened? While that's probably an interesting story (that I don't actually know) I just want to point out here what a stellar set of releases DJ Crystl issued in 1993 on Dee Jay Recordings

Dj Crystl's three 12"s on Dee Jay Recordings and one 12" on Force Ten Records in 1993 make up one of Jungle's most sublime winning runs. If Crystlize, Deep Space, Meditation, Warp Drive, Sweet Dreamz, Your Destiny, The Dark Crystl and Inna Year 3000 were all put on one cd it would have been one of the top jungle albums of all time along with The Deepest Cut, Parallel Universe etc. Actually I can't believe somebody didn't have the foresight or hindsight to compile that (?). 

I suppose Dj Crystl was one of the original ambient jungle producers. I always think he's got a vague shoegaze vibe too with his walls of synth sound, drones and ethereal vocal science scattered amongst the jungle elements. I wonder if Kevin Shields or Seefeel were fans? or vice versa? Anyway his sides are a lot crisper than you might imagine or remember. They are immaculately put together with all sorts of microscopic detail. I imagine Dj Crystl spent a lot of time meticulously crafting each second of his tuneage while never losing sight of the big picture. The sound while fastidious however never appears to be too fussy, often quite the opposite and that balancing act is where his potency lies. Like Omni Trio there is an aura of splendid excitement, elegance and generosity in Dj Crystl's jungle.  

DJ Crystl - Crystlize
Swirls of synths, shapeshifting walls of sound, time-stretched drum opulence, alluring dark tunnels, ethereal vocal science and an uncanny rattling clang accompany the endlessly chopped snares into the Crystlized echo chamber.

DJ Crystl - Deep Space
Frantic intricate choppage that is somehow mellifluous. Those melodic snares are cushioned perfectly amongst the atmospheres of enchanting darkness. 

DJ Crystl - Meditation
Oceanic pools of sound and waves of delicate vocal science eventually make room for exquisite rhythm-ology. At  5.10 a dramatic halt to proceedings occurs to allow sonic waves back in before the beat momentum effortlessly picks up again. In the remaining couple of minutes it moves into mesmerising sparkling ambient snares. Peak ambient jungle.

DJ Crystl - Warpdrive
Dj Crystl's most in yer face moment in 1993. This is a deluge of chopped and stretched breaks that go euphorically haywire amongst ominous drones. Don't forget that gloriously dark synth at 3.12. while the breaks continue go more and more insane. The Best. 

DJ Crystl - Sweet Dreamz
Idyllic sounds of the seaside with heaven bound synths, a woman's soothing meditative voice and a beat much less frantic than most jungle. Sweet Dreamz is all space age tropical vibes of calm tinged with disorientation and darkness. Pretty psychedelic.

DJ Crystl - Your Destiny
Waves of miniature ambient delirium and disorienting backwards abstractions where the spirit of MBV circa Glider lurks. The rhythm stop starts until 2.53 when it gets fully rolling as the darkness encroaches with a spectral presence coming in and out of focus. Choice dubby bleeps add to the subtle elusive charms of Your Destiny



  1. You are right - Crystl is one of the gods.

    For me it's "Warp Drive" that's the pinnacle - one of the tunes that had huge impact on me and like "Terminator" made it clear that this was where the future-edge was in dance music.

    I think I actually intended to have Crystl in the ambient jungle piece in the Wire - and may even have spoken to him on the phone, it's a bit hazy. Vaguest of memories of not super fruitful chat.

    He did seem like someone likely to be among the first to do an album - and was signed to ffrr I believe. But then didn't he release some material that was more in a hip hop vein?

  2. Surprised you don't have "Let It Roll" here - those cut-glass snares, and almost tabla-ish hand percussion ripples. That's the last one by him I can remember as a "wow" moment.

  3. "Let It roll" was from 94, see future post.

    The hip-hop record I recall being very disappointing sorta Wu-Tang style but not good.

    Still he put in three legendary killer years, which is better than most.

  4. He is a great producer! I defo love his earlier stuff more.. for the time (92/93) those older tunes where so bangin'
    Both Meditation and Warp Drive on the same 12" was the shit!
    The the remixes in 94 like whhhhhhat! mad crazy drums and you just know those who living in this period jumped all over this these tunes and played them loud, proud, good and hard.

    For me also Sweet Dreamz and Your Destiny really stuck with me. They really entranced me and took my mind places.

    Lets not forget the banging "Let It Roll" tune and the remix from 94 too again real crazy, super slick, drum programming that really keeps you hooked.

    It's without a doubt that DJ Crystl has been one of the most consistant producers who constantly pushed the envelope and look risks others would not dare try or think about tryin.

    For me my fav DJ Crystl tune has to be "Crystl – Untitled". Most people ended up calling it "Deep Jungle" because that was the name of the label and the track actually was very deep Jungle... its just one of those tunes you can put on and sit back and get lost in.