Lincoln Barrett (a.k.a. High Contrast) is primarily known as a drum ‘n’ bass producer who emerged at age eighteen with his widely acclaimed debut, True Colors (2002). He challenged the genre’s status quo, opting for soulful and operatic symphonies over assaulting breaks and bass. As a producer, the young High Contrast creates sonic tapestries that are cinematic yet danceable. As a deejay, he brings that same sensibility, creating a story with a track selection that represents the very best of drum ‘n’ bass. The twenty-fifth edition of the multi-genre FabricLive series (a live accompaniment to the label’s other series, simply called Fabric) finds High Contrast creating a deejay set that spans the drum ‘n’ bass spectrum in high style.
Whereas many drum ‘n’ bass compilations stick to one style or sound, High Contrast switches it up constantly on FabricLive 25. The mix starts slowly with soothing, almost muted tracks before dropping into some harder fare. Still, a musical vibe persists, with lush pads and chanting vocals popping up throughout, and airy effects and dazzling percussion combine to create a sound that is inviting and surprisingly layered.
Soulful cuts from London Elektricity and Jenna G are aimed at the ladies, the latter with its infectious hook and booty-shaking groove. Funky jams such as Martyn’s “Nxt 2 U” and Artificial Intelligence’s “The Big Picture” prove that the kid is in touch with the dance floor. The list of producers is a true sample of the wide variety available in the genre. Harder selections come courtesy of Adam F and Total Science, and softer fare comes from Marky, Cyantific and Danny Byrd. Listeners uninitiated in the hardcore beats of jungle and drum ‘n’ bass will find plenty to delight in here; High Contrast has woven break-beat, soul, hip-hop and cinematic styles into one cohesive mix. FabricLive 25 is simultaneously funky, soulful and emotional, effortlessly and accurately reflecting High Contrast’s far-reaching production style.