After a lengthy hiatus caused by the rollercoaster of events in both my work and my personal life, I am finally back to blogging about my rediscovered pirate tape collection. Since it has been a while after my last upload, I decided to switch gears from my 1997 Rude FM tapes and introduce the person who did more than anyone else to shape my understanding of hardcore and jungle music in the 1990s. His name is Matthew Wharmby, and we got to know each other via the Internet in 1996 after I reached out to him using the email he had listed on his personal website.
Matthew was older than me by several years, but we had mutual friends, who suggested I should contact him to find out more about London’s pirate radio scene. I was new to London, having only lived in the city for a year and a bit, but we quickly established rapport over our mutual love for jungle and drum & bass music, as well as the city’s geography. Over the course of the following year, Matthew sent me tapes of the stations that I had missed out on before 1995, such as Impact FM, Pulse FM, Format FM, Cyndicut FM, the Weekend Rush, Unity FM and many others. Being fourteen at the time, this was the only accessible (or indeed affordable!) way for me to reach back into the early years of hardcore and jungle, and to understand how the music had evolved. Matthew would patiently explain the backstory of each station, and would give me the chance to pick which recordings I was keen on exchanging with him using the tape catalogue on his website.
Today I am sharing one of my most prized tapes from the selection that Matthew sent me – Love Dove Jay on Eruption FM 101.3 on April 3, 1994. I believe that this is an online exclusive and is also the earliest set I have heard that I could confidently classify as “ambient jungle”. The tracks by Love Dove Jay himself, Eze G, Essence of Aura, DJ Rap, The Occupant, Danny Breaks, Codename John, The Groove Gangster and others have a distinctive spacey, atmospheric sound that was very new in early 1994 after the darker sounds that had dominated the airwaves throughout 1993. The unassuming way in which Love Dove Jay hosts this show and reads the shout-outs from the listeners evokes a certain nostalgia in me for the days before social media and Internet streaming transformed our radio listening experience. I hope you enjoy this recording!