In the world of drum and bass there aren’t many more significant than High Contrast. And ahead of the famed dnb talisman taking his High Contrast Band on tour this summer, we take a closer look at his celebrated discography, where samples continue to play a huge part of his career.
The Road Goes On Forever
Sample: The Who – Baba O’Riley
Taking direct inspiration from one of The Who’s best-loved tracks, High Contrast somewhat daringly saw a sample in Baba O’Riley’s iconic riff. Composed alongside manic keys and somewhat-clunky neurofunk-ish percussion, the track slid between the boundaries of hard-hitting and accessible entry-level dnb.
Sample: Aretha Franklin – One Step Ahead
Arguably his biggest release in years, Remind Me saw instant acclaim from the dnb community, channelling Aretha Franklin’s One Step Ahead for a soulful liquid gem. Hip-hop heads in particular will recognise the same sample from Mos Def’s Ms Fat Booty, and the results in drum and bass form were just as memorable.
Sample: Iron Butterfly – In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida
Not all that recognisable by name, but certainly in stature, the original In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida has been used in countless occasions of pop culture, from The Simpsons to PS1 classic Crash Team Racing. High Contrast also found inspiration in Iron Butterfly’s 1968 single, stealing its melody and futuristic organs for a 2007 rework, one that was later released as a limited edition 12” picture disc.
I Need to Be (by Wiley)
Sample: Goldie – Inner City Life
See Clear Now is often disregarded by many as a reputable Wiley album (including by the man himself), due to its scattered sound and cheap songwriting. High Contrast’s production on I Need To Be isn’t necessarily a saving grace either, but it does pay homage to another dnb classic – Goldie’s Inner City Life.
Sample: Marcia Hines – I’ve Got the Music in Me
Using vocal and instrumental chops from Marcia Hine’s I’ve Got The Music In Me, and weaving them in and out of rhythmic percussive production, High Contrast channelled disco vibes for 2004’s Racing Green. The self-directed The Shining-nodding video is a somewhat contrapuntal backdrop for one of High Contrast’s more under-appreciated singles.
Days Go By
Sample: Stevie Knicks – Edge of Seventeen
Never one to fear away from testing drum and bass on genre-defining tracks from stadium status artists, with Days Go By, High Contrast nabs the iconic riff and vocals from Stevie Knicks’ Edge of Seventeen. He also uses a vocal sample from the Fleetwood Mac frontwoman from which the song gets its name. As the Days Go By, it perhaps didn’t age all that well, until recently when it was revived under a much-revamped 2019 mix.
God Only Knows
Sample: The Beach Boys – God Only Knows
Among the most famed and internationally-recognised Beach Boys songs, God Only Knows was next on the list for High Contrast’s catalogue of inspirations. Supercharging the song with a newfound dnb energy, reminiscent in style to the aforementioned Remind Me, the song takes direct inspiration from Betty Everett’s cover. And while the results are an undoubted celebration of The Beach Boys, it again sheds light on the ever-profound versatility of drum and bass.