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Selections: High Contrast

In this regular feature, Selections, we invite DJs, producers and label heads to dig into their Bandcamp crates and share the contents of their digital collections. This week, High Contrast highlights some of his recent favourites, from classic jungle reissues to contemporary drum & bass, house and bassline belters

Clubs around the world are shut, and opportunities to find new music out in the wild have been ripped from under our feet as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. While hearing new music played out by your favourite DJs will have to be put on hold due to these unprecedented circumstances, it’s never been easier, or more important, to support the artists and labels putting out EPs, albums and compilations in the midst of all the madness.

With tour cancellations and festival postponements leaving many members of the international electronic music community out of pocket, Bandcamp has become an even more vital platform for supporting the music you love, with 80% of all sales from the online music store going directly to artists and labels. In March, the platform announced it would be waiving its revenue share for all sales for one day, and on Friday 20th, took no cut from purchases made. In total, $4.3 million was spent on music over the course of 24 hours, all going straight to the creators. Throughout lockdown, Bandcamp continued to waive their fees on the first Friday of every month, as well as on 19th June (Juneteenth), when the platform donated 100% of its profits to the NAACP Legal Defence Fund. In July, it was announced that a fee-free "Bandcamp Friday" would take place on the first Friday of each month for the rest of 2020. 

In this series, Selections, we’re inviting DJs, producers and label heads to dig into their digital crates and share the contents of their collections. In lieu of opportunities to discover new records on the dancefloor, Selections – along with radio shows and mixes – will give you the chance to nab sounds from the crates of tastemakers, and support the artists behind them while you’re at it. Win-win, right?

This week, High Contrast highlights some of his recent favourites, from classic jungle reissues to contemporary drum & bass, house and bassline belters. One of the principal stalwarts of thedrum & bass scene over the past 20 years, Lincoln Barrett — aka High Contrast — released five albums on Hospital Records before moving his recorded output over to another big UK independent label, 3 Beat, for his ‘Night Gallery’ album in 2017. Synonymous with the liquid end of d&b that’s flourished this century, his latest single ‘Time Is Hardcore’, featuring Kae Tempest and Anita Blay, is a melodic, thought-provoking cut that sees Tempest riffing on the theme of the passing of time in their inimitable, affecting rap/poetic style. Taking its name from Lincoln’s misreading of a dubplate Fabio was playing at Fabric a few years back, the track is the precursor to his seventh artist album, ‘Notes From The Underground’, which is out now, and sees him draw on sounds and techniques from the modern d&b scene’s junglist roots.

Dig into High Contrast’s Selections below.

Pete Cannon
‘8 Bit Only EP’ [N4 Records]

“This EP from retro-tech specialist Pete Cannon is full of lashing jungle euphoria made on the old-skool Amiga computer. It’s the closest to the exact sound of early ‘90s jungle as any modern producer has gotten in my opinion. I bought the vinyl edition of this which came with a floppy disk containing the tunes, an amazing bit of vintage merch! But it’s sold-out now (digital still available) so keep an eye out for his forthcoming releases.”

Winslow
‘Mumbles of Grace’ [Goldfat Records]

“Winslow is fast becoming my favourite stateside d&b producer. This single is released on Mitekiss’s label Goldfat Records and is a very sleek number with a Moog-style synth lead that is just delicious. The tunes also got an MJ Cole vibe to it which is very much my cup of tea. It’s also worth checking Winslow’s own Bandcamp page as he offers his self-released discography for a great price, well worth it as it’s full of smooth liquid funk gems.”

J Majik
‘Arabian Nights VIP’ [Infrared Records]

“Keeping track of all the limited run vinyl jungle releases and represses on Bandcamp is a full time job. I’m gutted I missed out on the vinyl edition of this one as ‘Arabian Nights’ was a pivotal tune for me in falling in love with jungle. This VIP mix is a cleaner, more focused version of the track that is great to mix with.” 

Digital
'Touch Me' [Function Records UK]

“Another classic jungle tune that’s had the remaster / repress treatment, this time from Digital, someone whose music I’ve loved since the late ‘90s and who was kind enough to give great feedback to me on my early demos I sent to him. This track ‘Touch Me’ is actually his first ever release, from 25 years ago and features a mix that Photek lent his hands to.”

Coco Bryce
‘Hold The Line EP’ [Critical Music]

“Very good four-tracker of new-skool jungle from the Dutchman, who makes for an interesting addition to the always strong Critical roster. The title track is a moody half-time dub-wise stepper but the big tune is ‘U I Luv’, which features a mellow reggae sample and a huge amen drop. ‘Blacklist’ is an abstract jazzy number and then the EP finishes with another old-skool jungle number called ‘Sweet Gang’ which is simple but very effective with a pure sub that’s sure to rattle your skull.” 

Amy Dabbs
‘Girl Like Me EP’ [Lobster Theremin]

“Berlin based Amy Dabbs makes and plays the kind of house music I love: deep Chicago vibes with jazzy rhodes stabs and sped up samples. All the tracks here are tasty but the title tune in particular is a beauty which builds up to an amazing string sample around the two minute mark.”

Halogen
‘Dragonforce EP’

“Four classy, futuristic d&b tracks. Impeccable production as always from him. The title track is an anime sampling bassline heavy growler but the other three tracks really caught my attention, especially ‘Tekina’, as they have a very fresh soulful sound, mixing smooth male vocals with darker grooves. Superb stuff.”

Lavery
‘Harmonies EP’

“Livery is another nu-skool producer making very vintage sounding jungle. His work rate and quality levels are bang on. The title track is my fav here, with a haunting female vocal sample and classic pad sound dropping into heavyweight jungle breaks. I also love the track ‘The Zone’ as it features a sample from my favourite TV theme tune, ‘The Twilight Zone’. Check out his many other releases, lots of good stuff to sort through.”

Mella Dee
‘Sydney Street EP’ [Sub Code Records]

“One of my favourite UK four-four producers, who effortlessly blends booting techno and classic rave energy. This EP sees him tapping into the bassline house sound and of course he does it with his own distinctive take on the genre, going weirder and deeper with the sonics than one might expect but still retaining the thumping kick drums and big basslines Niche lovers crave.”

V/A
‘Flex Archives Remasters Vol. 1 - 10’ [Flex Industries]

“Another classic jungle reissue / remaster, this time from L Double’s Flex Records, one of the key labels for the genre in the North. There’s 21 tunes in this collection of the label’s first releases and the hit rate is very high. Most interesting to me are the first releases from Marcus Intalex (RIP) and ST Files, before they teamed up together, both proving they were brilliant producers on their own too. The track ‘What Ya Gonna Do’ is a personal favourite classic.”

Want more? Check out Selections features with London jungle crew Rupture