Review Summary: The Case For Commercial Electronic Music: Part 1Cross The Line
will always be a formative album for me, regardless of how I would view it if I first heard it now. I’ve played the whole thing through at least thirty times, and it remains fresh and entertaining even today. While some would scoff at the copious amounts of cheese, the album holds a special place in my heart as the first drum & bass album I could really call my own. I love TC’s heavily edited vocals, I love the way the toy piano dissipates into utter madness on “Run Riot,” and I love the meshing of classic roller vibes and big-room jump-up on “Anubis.” Though it’s true the album only cuts about skin-deep, it’ll always paint wonderful images of florid DnB and simplistic glory whenever I hit play on my iPod.
Taking a step back, though, why shouldn’t it? Of all producers to represent the burgeoning market of new-school jump-up and liquid funk, Camo & Krooked form the best face I can think of. Their sound, at once quintessentially representative of the movement towards the dancefloor and the idea that the best DnB doesn’t have to be the stuff that apes what’s already been done by Goldie, Photek, and Dillinja, is aural caramel: the stuff slides sweetly and easily into the head in a way that few producers nowadays can match. Though it’s difficult to tell initially, the production is spotless: every washed-out breakbeat, every thumping kick, every distorted power chord is tuned to perfection. And while some would ignore the point of quality production to say that the LP lacks character, Cross The Line
still makes a compelling argument for the fate and future of maximalist DnB. Standout track “Far Away” is one of the best examples of this, with a fantastically euphoric buildup which leads right into some of the best driving, distorted, simplistic melody riffs since the inception of the duo’s signature style.
The album doesn’t stop there, though: everything from the adrenaline-junkie raw energy of “Watch It Burn” to the grimy, brosteppy brilliance of “The Lesson” screams charisma and vibrancy into the listener’s ear. Camo & Krooked have created a beautiful lesson in the art of the quote-unquote “mainstream success,” and it’s great to see the successes they’ve achieved here. Though it’s difficult for me to look at Cross The Line
completely objectively, it’s difficult to find fault with the album - the seamless tracks exemplify how commercial drum & bass should sound. The album is a compelling case for the legitimacy of the liquid cheese so many complain about, and while many would find fault with the album simply because there is a lot of cheese present, in the context of pushing the DnB sound forward Cross The Line
is a major success.