Lincoln Barrett aka High Contrast, one of the greats of the drum n bass scene, and if Goldie is anything to go by should achieve National Treasure status in about a decade or so. His recording career started in the early 2000s, at a time when 3DJ and I were listening to plenty of jungle music on vinyl records. High Contrast immediately cut through as a producer who had something different, a grasp of melody and danceability that opened the hitherto esoteric world of drum n bass / jungle to a much wider audience. Without further ado here are 5 of the best from one of our very favourites.
The Basement Dub (2003)
The first High Contrast I remember buying was the excellent Global Love in 2002, (with a great John B remix of Return Of Forever on the flip side), but in 2003 High Contrast released the first of so very many dancefloor monsters. The A side with vocals is a terrific tune, but we’re going with the instrumental version and a groove that just doesn’t quit.
Twilight’s Last Gleaming (2004)
The 2004 High Society album was an instant classic, though much to my disappointment the vinyl version didn’t feature the outstanding Racing Green. The vinyl album also didn’t feature this track, an all time classic and one of the first and still best examples of how High Contrast uses vocals to tether a soulful and house influenced flavour to heavy breakbeat music. That soulful thread has continued throughout his career, also check out Wish You Were from 2012, but this one is an absolute cracker:
Calibre & High Contrast – Mr Majestic (2004)
Another feature of his career is the various collaborations and there are quite a few excellent co-productions and split singles throughout his discography, shout out to If I Could, in collaboration with Logistics, which was a gnats eyelash away from making the list. But this track with master producer Calibre is a thing of wonder:
If We Ever (2007)
Shout outs to the WHOLE “Tough Guys Don’t Dance” album, a personal opinion being that it was, and probably still is, the best drum n bass /jungle album ever made. Why? It set both the benchmark & blueprint for the next decade, listen to the kind of drum n bass music that is now ubiquitous in modern culture “Tough Guys Don’t Dance” runs through it like a stick of rock. Just as importantly it perfectly sums the entirety of the genre up to that point. Every track is a winner, I regularly played the flip side of this one, “Pink Flamingos”, and there’s the spine tingling “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”. The closing track “Ghost Of Jungle Past” sums up the Janus like quality of the record, looking backwards and forwards, encapsulating jungle & drum n bass and the rave tradition that spawned them. Nowhere is it clearer than in “If We Ever”, featuring the soaring vocal talents of the much missed Diane Charlemagne, (who of course featured on “Inner City Life” in 1994, to which this tune is a worthy sequel), a track and an album to remember:
Shotgun Mouthwash (Jungle Remix) (2017)
High Contrast is still proving he has the magic with the recently released “Night Gallery” album, check out the excellent re-rub of 60s rock n roll number “Tobacco Road” and “Remind Me” takes off into orbit. But, since we love the Amen Break, here is the Jungle remix of a great track from T2: Trainspotting (a second collaboration with Danny Boyle, following their work together on the Olympic ceremony).
Always Room For One More
A list like this has to include some of the remix work that is peppered throughout his career. Mention must go to the remix of California Love by 2 Pac, which is stomping bass workout, and the remix of Blue Orchid by the White Stripes re-tools a hard rockin’ orginal and makes it rock even harder. However a final shout has to go to Hometown Glory (High Contrast Remix) (2008), an absolutely perfect remix, a track that makes it sound like Adele recorded the vocals specifically for it. Simply spellbinding:
Unfortunately the audio on this upload is not as good as it should be, the track is also on Spotify, (and as with all these lists, if you’re able to support the artists by buying the music, then that’s always worth doing).