Sticks to a tried-and-tested drum’n’bass sound, but an undeniably bouncy affair.
Noel Gardner 2010-08-02
When jungle producers began to shift away from the gunshot samples and ragga vocals, some 15 years back, it got called drum'n'bass. At the time, this was considered affected and ridiculous by many; but it's proved a hardy perennial, and continues to draw vast and youthful crowds across the UK without being considered especially cool. Dan 'DJ Fresh' Stein has been one of its most successful exponents – initially as part of quartet Bad Company, latterly as a solo artist. Kryptonite, his second album, largely finds him sticking with a tried and true sound.
Other drum'n'bass producers have attempted, successfully or otherwise, to wriggle out of the genre's straitjacket – d'n'b beat-crafters growing tired of the area is an affliction almost as old as the genre itself. This is not something of which DJ Fresh can be accused, on the strength of Kryptonite. Although he switches up his style with the help of belting female vocals (Lassitude, Gold Dust) and acknowledges the existence of dubstep, for the most part this is bumptiously unchallenging jump-up d'n'b bounciness. Not as dark or harsh as his work in Bad Company, or as tactile as dBridge (aka Darren White, also a former member of that group), Fresh is all about the dancefloor, now as ever.
Fans of Stein – even ones who've only climbed aboard recently, perhaps off the back of Hypercaine getting Radio 1 daytime play last year – might feel shortchanged by how much of Kryptonite has already been released. Drum'n'bass heads can debate themselves silly about whether Hypercaine's frothy pop take on the genre is another nail in its coffin, but it's pretty much inarguably true that it doesn't need to be on this album. As a rule, the brand-new tracks carry more invention and interest in any case. Acid Rain is probably the best thing herein – powered by a breakbeat plucked straight from d'n'b's 90s halcyon days, all growling bass and old time rave stabs – while Chacruna marries screwy pitch-shifted vocals to spacey synth and half-paced dubstep. Overall, though, it's hard to shake the feeling that Fresh is selling himself short here.
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