Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WMC, High Contrast, and the History of Bass Music (PPF1)

Before we get to the heart of the matter, I would like to take a few moments to discuss this blog, it's intentions and what the heck PPF is :)  Wyatt Agard and Christian Rokk founded Clearly Good Music and performed as Vodka Rox back in 2008 and although neither of us were rookies, we were having lots of fun.  The fun we were having came from a blend of old and new party themes being woven together with a soundtrack that was  as much classic Chicago house as it was trailblazing electro.  That idea and spark lives on at Tipsy Tuesdays, Jump Around and PBR and it also lives in each and everyone of you who come to Wyatt's events.  We also want to host that vibe here at!

2012 can seem unfamiliar to two guys who have been raving for over 35 years combined.  Mixes have become transitions, turntables are disappearing and vinyl is a gimmick.  However, deep in our hearts we know though that this is still the SAME super FUN party.  It has never stopped.  So throughout the Past, Present and Future series (there is the whole PPF thing if I still have your attention), old times will be discussed positively and at length.  However, the past has nothing on the present and future.  They are one and the same.  It's all jokes when it comes to nightlife.  But during the day, Clearly Good Music can help you learn about the past and see why it's so freakin' relevant to today's freaky little party scene we have in Madison.  So without further's article.

So many people tuned in to the Ultra Music Festival Live Stream on Youtube which was featuring various live performances on the UMF stages at this year's Winter Music Conference in Miami.  Slick production value, decent performances, live chat and Twitter feed and sheer numbers made it feel like you were there even if the 60,000 average live viewers definitely weren't.    There was not a lot of people in the crowds who looked like they could compose a coherent Tweet. LOL.  And one morning in particular featured a killer back to back DJ duo, Netsky and High Contrast.  Drum and bass fans will recognize those names but perhaps not realize that High Contrast was first signed to his CURRENT label in the year 2000.  Got roots?

Back then Lincoln Barrett was an unknown demo pusher who happened to catch a big break on the strength of his production work.   By infusing disco and house sounds into his progressive drum and bass beat structures, he was able to set dancefloors and bedrooms alike on FIRE!  His songs "Return of Forever" and "Make It Tonight" on Hospital Records are modern classics,  released in 2002, they will still smash 2012. The timelessness of the sound is what makes him so popular and why he related so well to Progressive and Dutch House loving crowds.  His modern disco sound works everywhere, regardless of the beat backing it.  Past, present, future!

Drum and bass is said to have been born from the Hardcore and Breakbeat Hardcore scene in London, in particular the records that had a ragga styling, eventually leading to the sound known as Jungle Music.  Many people objected to the connotation of the word "jungle" and suggested racism.  Thus, it's offered that perhaps drum and bass was called that because jungle fell out of favor.  I think that may be true but there are STILL kids wearing "Junglist Movement" T Shirts so that can't really be it.  What's more likely in my mind is that Garage and Soul sounds are simply more accessible and had a historical context that worked very well on dancefloors and made sense to include them in this "new" breakbeat sound.  So, Roni Size, Fabio, et al, worked those sounds into their jungle music which really now needed a new name.  High Contrast is the epitomy of drum and bass (the thing jungle was now more accurately called) and embodies the fusion of hard breakbeats with soul music which has been winning over hearts and minds since circa 1996.

So once again flash forward to Ultra.  Here is High Contrast getting down with the rather youngish Netsky and playing huge basslines with amazing vocal cuts and overlays.  As the vocals come down and the crowd  chants "The Sun is Shining Everyday" along with the record, it was truly sunny and beautiful and I felt like I was witnessing people fall in love with a sound I've fallen in love with twice a year for about the last fifteen years.  Thirty make ups and break ups with drum and bass? Why? Because there is so much more to love in Electronic Dance Music.  Sometimes we are house, sometimes techno, sometimes dubstep.  We are all family.


High Contrast's Hospital Records Artist Profile
One of my favorite High Contrast tracks coming down the pipe :)