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High Contrast High Society Review

Album. Released 2004.  

BBC Review

High Contrast returns to the drum and bass scene on devastating form with an album...

Jack Smith 2004

Back in the last days of the 20th century, the post-apocalyptic jungle-scape did not look good.

Floating on a soul cloud, high above the destruction, sat Lincoln Barrett, young, ambitious, Welsh and - at that point - short of hair.

A wry smile played across his mouth as he helped fellow rebels of nonchalance (Marcus Intalex, Fabio, DJ Marky, Calibre, London Elektricity, 4 Hero, LTJ Bukem) deftly weave rays of sunshine into a coruscating musical rainbow that would act as a beacon for the soul-loving masses - and perhaps woo the chicks back too.

It worked. By the time High Contrast's debut LP (True Colours) was ready in 2002, the scene had bloomed into a multitude of fabulous flavas and his mellifluous mix of eclectic beats was joyously received.

Fast forward to 2004.

Barrett is a little older, his hair is bigger (rivalling now John B's brazen bouffant) and his production skills have definitely matured.

The vast talent hinted at on his debut is confirmed in his sophomore effort High Society - an album that effortlessly blends samba, jazz, 2step, bossa nova, hip hop, rare groove and Detroit techno, and has been favourably touted by the mighty Fabio as one of the best in the scene "for a couple of years".

Yet to call it a conventional d&b album would be to do High Society an injustice.

The rhythmic rush and compelling warmth of tunes like opener "Lovesick", "Tutti Frutti", "The Persistence Of Memory" and "Racing Green" (which has seen more rinses than a West End salon) are perfect for the hip-twirling excesses of the dancefloor, but it's the gregarious genre-blending that makes the album truly interesting.

"Only Two Can Play" (featuring the enigmatically monikered Spoonface) "Angels and Fly" (with East-end grimester Nolay) and even the downtempo title track (starring ubiquituos, multi-speed MC Dynamite) are all amoeba-like creations, side-stepping convention and brimming with typical Contrastian whimsy - fine examples of his magically off-kilter 'phusionistic' approach.

By creating an LP that has more thrillers than fillers, more skills than frills and more funk than thump, he warmly invites us all - yes, the ladies as well - back into the radiant, multi-coloured, post-apocalyptic world that is, once again, drum & bass.

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