Review Summary: A 2 disc album featuring Drum & Bass artist High Contrast at his best as both an artist and in song remixing.
As strong as the lineup on the Hospitality Records label is, few artists could pull off a ‘Best Of’ album in the Drum & Bass genre without looking a bit silly upon its release. Yet while certainly not in going with the trend, High Contrast comes out at the end of Confidential
with his reputation very much in tact. The album covers the years from his Hospital Records debut in 2001 through to 2009. His full-length albums have for some people worn thin quickly due to a lack of variation across the album. Though that should not be taken as a knock on the sound itself, his energetic and animated approach has produced some stunning Drum & Bass anthems over the years.
The best of album format proves to be a nice solution to his past shortcomings, with the selection chosen providing a great overview of his whole career. As with most best of albums, it would be easy to nitpick over the song selection, focusing on the songs he failed to include. On the whole though, there are no glaring omissions. More importantly, the first disc captures a selection that proves strong enough to maintain the listener’s interest across the whole disc. To newcomers, the first disc of Confidential
excels nicely in encapsulating his vibrant style of Drum & Bass.
Of more interest to existing fans is the second disc, a wild selection of song remixes. The chosen songs vary greatly, with songs ranging from his buddy London Elektricty to artists like Adele and Missy Elliott. In remixing artists wholly separate to the Drum & Bass genre, High Contrast succeeds immensely. Hometown Glory
by British artist Adele sees a complete redecoration from its original slow and piano driven structure. Beautiful in its original format, High Contrast transforms it into a stuttering piece, the pitch of the vocals jittering as he kicks the song into gear. He gives Adele’s vocals great presence within the song, the drum and bass underlining the beautiful tone of her vocals. With great understanding of the content of the original version, High Contrast draws selectively from the song to create a piece that fulfills his own vision. With no discredit to the original, he really takes it and makes it his own. In this way the song reflects an incredible amount of skill on the part of High Contrast, and this is reflected throughout the second disc.
Even when taking on songs closer to home such as Omni Trio’s Renegade Snares
, he shows a wonderful ability to draw on the essence the original in creating something totally his own. In This Feeling
by Blue Sonix, he creates a high level of energy, the catchy vocal lines worked in over the action driving the song. Occasionally he misses, when remixing his buddy London Elektricity, he fails to really take hold of the song and give it a new content, nor create a new shine to it. More often than not though, the second disc delivers in taking his high-energy approach and the essence of other artists and creating an output that really does have a fascinating new spirit.
The conclusion is simple. For those unfamiliar with High Contrast, Confidential
provides a fantastic overview of his best as an artist. To those familiar with him, the album is a worthy addition for the second disc alone. It provides a fantastic overview of a side many will be unfamiliar with, his talent in remixing. While his failure to adventure away from his signature sound has hurt his full length albums in the past, his remixes of artists such as Adele and The Streets do test the waters outside his comfort zone. Even if viewed as tentative steps, the utilization of new sounds does produce tantalizing results in the second disc. Fresh and lively, Confidential
stands as some of the best Drum & Bass to come out in 2009.