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Ambient/jazz jungle producer Jamie Odell was near the top of the hype list for 1997, his Jimpster project upped by the likes of Mixmaster Morris and Coldcut. However, as jungle's avant-garde veered into techstep territory and "ambient" and "jazz" switched from drum'n'bass adjectives to unsavory invectives, Jimpster's appeal switched from the dancefloor to the armchair, gaining popularity instead (like Squarepusher and Cujo's Amon Tobin) among electronica audiences. His string of EPs, released through the Manchester-based Freerange label, found a welcome audience in those repelled by techstep's murky, bleating hoovers but craving something a little more sophisticated than the rolling, housey breaks and pad washes characteristic of most dancefloor ambient and jazz drum'n'bass. His debut full-length, Martian Arts, was a compilation of those Freerange singles, and was released by the New York-based Instinct label in mid-1997.
Like Squarepusher and Cujo, Odell takes his jazz influence in not always obvious directions, with results often pleasantly recalling '70s fusion acts such as Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, and Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis without stooping to excessive sampling. Odell draws from live session tapes recorded in his studio. A student of jazz and contemporary composition when he began cutting records, Odell is also one of many musicians in his family; his mother is a jazz singer on the London circuit and his father is the drummer for jazz/funk fusion combo Shakatak. Jimpster is also a popular live act, with bassist Cheyne Towers and sax/flute blower Roger Wickham backing up Odell's samplers and Atari. Jimpster's proper debut LP, Messages from the Hub, was released on Kudos in 1999 and the eclectic compilation Scrambled was issued a year later.