“I’ll give you a quick demonstration”: Marc Pell reveals his secret powers and his jungle.
Marc Pell, alias Suitman Jungle, who is apparently a quiet London business man wearing a classic, blue suit and an sober ochre tie, is one of the few contemporary artists, that can represent suitably our frenetic 21st century, a chaotic metropolitan atmosphere in continuous technological expansion, using a simple chain of formulas, obscure until now.
Immediately we unconsciously start reading it with constant percussive rhythm and even tapping with our fingers on the table or whatever surface our hands are leaning on.
These onomatopoeias represent our heartbeat, but at the same time the word “dub” stands for a subgenre of reggae music which blossomed during the subversive 60s, mixing and reshaping different sounds, supported by an accentuated drum and bass.
This D&B beat started progressively accelerating in less than 30 years, at the same time as the technologic evolution was developing a revolutionary product, that any sci-fi novel writer or film director couldn’t even imagine: The Internet.
This theory was illustrated by a Stratford-based elegant, blonde haired man, who suddenly walked on the narrow stage placed in a hidden psychedelic (their humanized yellow flowers squelched down by red feet painted on its wall can really blow your mind) haven of The Windmill in Brixton, during the last day of September, when usually a chilly breeze appears pushing away shiny and warm summer feelings and spreading instead gelid and dark autumn ones.
This pleasant man, pointing out his graph, kindly presented himself, as he was in a serious business convention, instead of a potential AA session: “Let me begin by introducing myself: “I’m Marc Pell. I work at OBS, Original Bassline Services.”
Pause. Suspense. Light drumming track looping in the background.
Then he pronounced his ice-breaking line: “I’ll give you a quick demonstration,” and everything turned into electric blue as his suit and the atmosphere exploded in a dazzling chaos, as if Pandora opened her box again. Indeed, step by step, glimpse by glimpse, beat by beat, flash by flash everybody in that tiny spinning rainbow ball started losing themselves in a uncontrolled looping march through space and time, back to the raving 90s, to the yuppie Kraftwerkian 80s, to the hippie Pink Floydish 70s, and even further, to the ancient times when Native American or African shamans, to cure their devotees or to communicate with their ancestors or gods, were using hammering dancing movements and hypnotising drumming rhythms.
Therefore, Mr. Pell can be seen as a 21st-century European (we are still in 2017, so this adjective is approved by the majority of the UK Parliament and totality of ones of the others countries) version of a shaman, hidden behind an exuberant Harry Gibson’s mask and a polite Clark Kent’s outfit; who using his secret powers as an hypnotic pendulum can make the audience start waggling, wiggling, jiggling wildly, following captivating sub-bass lines and ferocious beats.
But as an old storyteller, tired of keeping inside his head ancient arcane myths, he reveals: “If I’m writing a straight-up jungle/DnB/quick punk-y track, I’ll usually begin with a groove. I record all my loops from tapes of me playing various kits in all kinds of spaces which are surrounding me.”
He also uses a Pocket Operator (known strangely also as “teenage engineering”) – that is a drum sequencer, which make easy composing enchanting grooves on.
Groove is a word that means also fixed routine, something you had to deal with every day, repetitive actions that turn you in an annoyed and slightly paranoid android. On the other hand, it is that frenetic loop that turns your mechanical alienation into a liberating dual state of trance-translation.
He continues: “Bass lines generally come from tropical birdsong, that have many inflections and unpredictable rhythms. I usually register these peculiar songs or rip them from YouTube. After that, I layer sounds on top of these spliced songs until eventually there is nothing left of the original sample.”
But there are apparent interferences weaving into this shaking catharsis: disturbing laughing, vintage advertisements created by his acute voice going through a pitch shifter and delay pedal chain, and then a sweet voice of a little girl, her niece, that insistently says, as the track’s title suggests: “Do Anything You Want”, that could be naïve, but instead it’s a terribly powerful imperative, a truth coming from pure innocence, that can cure your insecurity.
Indeed, he followed his instincts just two years ago, because before he was paralysed by the economical aspect of life, that afflict every human-android being many times during their daily process of organisation, consumption and (eventually) production.
After years and years of Odyssey, like a modern Ulysses, influenced by his male Apollonian muses – like The Jungle Drummer (London Elektricity), Giles Kwakebass & Greg Fox and his Dionysian ones like Reggie Watts and Bill Bailey – obtained a small drum kit made-up of a rack tom, snare drum, hi-hat and woodblock and began sharing his artistic dexterity on the streets, like the first troubadours.
Indeed, for our hero, it’s extremely important to have a strong connection with his audience, emailing and contacting everyone, instead of the traditional promoting on Facebook or Instagram: he has just 300 loyal followers, but at the same time his track Mind the Gap has been streamed 2,167 times on SoundCloud.
His only weakness, kryptonite, Achilles’ heel, “is putting the hours in to turning these simple, short ideas into full tracks without my colleagues and boss knowing!” he humbly admits.
“I’m not a prophet or a stone aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I’m living on.” A collective voice is echoing coming from another time, another space and dimension.
So please, be quiet, maintain and protect his ancient and futuristic secrets and remember: mind the gap, waiting for his EP will come out next summer.
Words by Federica Ardizzone