Lauded for his debut album, True Colours which was hailed as a raising of the bar for drum n’ bass, High Contrast has again created a stir with this follow-up. High Society sees him borrowing influences from the house world to create uplifting and soulful drum n’ bass like you’ve never heard before. At its best it’s thoroughly addictive – check the opening salvo of “Lovesick”, “Tutti Frutti” and “Brief Encounter” all of which feature vocals and arrangements that would not be amiss on some soulful house anthems.
He gets a bit more rough and ready on “Angels and Fly” which treads that in-between ground separating sparse, blippy hip-hop and jungle that Dizzee Rascal (in my opinion) made unlistenable, but which High Contrast and featured MC Nolay, do a much more palatable job with.
I’m sure d n’ b purists are frothing at the mouth over this release; pointing and squealing at High Contrast’s slick combination of crisp and rolling drum n’ bass beats, with soulful vocals, soaring harmonies, and varied basslines, but to his considerable credit he’s managing to present a version of drum n’ bass (much as Roni Size did before him) that can actually be listened to and appreciated outside of the hardcore fanbase (and of course that’s the very problem some more insular heads will have with it), without compromising the energy and innovation of the genre. I could do without the ‘bonus’ “Basement Track”, but for the 11 tracks preceding it, High Contrast effortlessly makes drum n’ bass fresh and vital again.