In the world of drum and bass there aren’t many names more significant than High Contrast. And ahead of the famed Hospital Records talisman playing two Halloween events in both London and Bristol this Friday (26th October), we take a closer look at High Contrast’s celebrated discography, where samples have played such 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 nuerofunk-esque 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 sultry 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, In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida has been used in countless occasions of pop culture, from The Simpsons to PS1 classic Crash Team Racing. In 2007, High Contrast this time found inspiration in Iron Butterfly’s 1968 single, stealing its melody and futuristic organs for a 2007 rework, one that later released as a limited edition 12″ picture disc.
I Need to Be (by Wiley)
Sample: Goldie – Inner City Life
It’s impossible to ignore High Contrast’s contribution to drum and bass, but here he pops up on grime lord Wiley’s 2008 album See Clear Now. Often disregarded by many as a reputable Wiley album (including the man himself), 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 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 from Stevie Knicks’ Edge of Seventeen. He also uses a vocal sample from the Fleetwood Mac frontwoman from which the song gets its name. But as the Days Go By, this is perhaps a sample that hasn’t aged all that well.
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 is more of a cover-come-homage to the 1996 classic than a sample. And while the results are an undoubted celebration of The Beach Boys, it again sheds more light on the versatility and ever-profound legacy of drum and bass.
High Contrast plays Motion, Bristol this Friday with support from the Hospital crew including: S.P.Y, Camo & Krooked, Danny Byrd and Etherwood. For more info, have a read of our event preview.