Thursday, 12 November 2009

Kryptic Minds – One Of Us [Swamp 81]

Even though this is their second album One Of Us seems like a debut, a fresh start, a new sound. After countless years producing D&B and gaining a reputation as being some of the biggest in the game they decided to change the game and get involved with dubstep. Many D&B producers have made the transition to the deep and dark side of dubstep with grate success, Breakage, Instra:mental and Martyn all spring to mind alongside so many others. So Kryptic Minds story may not be that out of place but the unique sound they are brining back to dubstep kind of is. They hooked up with DMZ heavy weight Loefah and his newborn label Swamp 81 and together they have really set a statement of intent. They are going right to the dark side, with dark as hell atmospheric half step a sound pretty much pioneered by Loefah and Youngsta back in the early days of dubstep and a sound that has been neglected a little in recent times. One Of Us is that statement.

A menacing intro apparently made up of field recordings of walking on gravel melts into ‘One Of Us’ which first appeared on a 12” earlier in the year with ‘Six Degrees’ on the flip. It’s a dark almost subtle track, I say almost as these tracks have a huge amount of power to them but its restrained. Bass pulses, half step beats with some of the nicest sounding intricately swung high hats around, they really build grooves with the high end of the percussive spectrum. What Kryptic Minds do best is atmosphere and all of these tracks ooze with it. They don’t vary the template at all and this really creates a dense journey with a singular vision that’s so well executed.

The drops on the slow-mo industrial tribal-like ‘Generation Dub’ are so big, when they want to pummel you with bass they really know how to. Some of this album reminds me of Distance’s Repercussions from last year, especially the more percussive numbers with the more restrained less gnarly bass lines. Kryptic Minds keep the buzz saw bass patches for their d’n’b and go for a darker sound. ‘Stepping Stone’ is another highlight, with Arabic samples and a low slung bass groove and crisp rolling hi-hats with dubby techno pulses slowly building. For some reason they remind me of the dark end of Unkle when they turned a bit prog at times, at times this is a bit of a put off and at others it’s not even on my mind.

The opening strings and pads, drenched in crackle on ‘Something To Nothing’ really draws a Burial comparison it’s some seriously wide-screen cinematic tension building, like a high budget ‘In McDonalds’. ‘Secure Lost’ is on a similar tip with dubbed out vocal snippets and loads of field sounds, there is even a slight garage beat to it, but in half step, so you get bursts and tension, bursts and bass pressure. A Reece-like ghostly bass even features in all its looming glory. The restrain really adds a mesmerising distopian atmosphere drenched in a longing sadness.

‘Chosen Few’ is maybe the most aggressive dance floor punisher; the grizzly bass rasps are built to shake up the place. Yet it’s still pretty restrained in its evilness. They show that you can be dark and aggressive without becoming a cartoon. The album gets a little brighter with the last two tracks, glints of light can be seen anyway, and the brighter elements shine through. ‘Organic’ has a similar feel to ‘Stepping Stone’ and the closing track ‘Distant Dawn’ even twinkles with a bit of dewdrop melody and like the name suggests, the sound of a breaking dawn. There is such a free flowing organic feel to this album, where a lot of dubstep sounds made for the city, I can’t help but feel a rural warmth, loneliness and darkness in this.

Swamp 81 is set to shake and meditate soundsystems around the world, with rumoured Burial & Loefah hook-ups and a 12” from Skream on the way it’s bound to get attention and rightly so. Kryptic Minds take on the half step sound on One Of Us is drenched in cinematic proportions of atmosphere, if you’ve been in a club and heard some of these tracks in the mix the jump out at you in a way others don’t, with a fully formed world attached to them. If this album has a companion this year it has to be Clubroot’s self titled debut on Low Dubs, they’re both singular visions with Clubroot rolling out a slightly lighter garage sound compared to Kryptic Minds. A lot of people get compared to Burial but this release really does echo his sound all be it minus the garage and haunted crackle, Kryptic Minds are a hell of a lot smoother, precise and spaced out but with a similar depth in production with layers of field recordings and melancholic atmosphere. Sometimes One Of Us feels a bit to tasteful or even a little boring but in the right frame of mind it’s an epic listen that creates a fully realised world of its own that subtly progresses from pure darkness to smidgens of light, I guess it depends on your mood.

Blackdown Interview & Mix


issy6 said...
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issy6 said...

This album is sick! Lots of good tunes on it.

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