A steady progression is taking shape in the minds and on the mixing desk of one of the UK's foremost electronic music producers, Kryptic Minds. Before his production twin heads to Hong Kong, Si tells Oliver Clasper about taking it down to the "140 sound."
After more than a decade of drum’n’bass releases on various home-grown labels including Goldie’s pioneering Metalheadz and their own incarnation, Defcom Records, Si Kryptic Minds and Leon Switch have drifted rapidly up stream and decidedly down tempo. From the faster, more frenetic mood and pace of their earlier sound comes a renewed creative temperament that really needs to be heard to be fully understood. At its most vulnerable and raw it is the interpretation of sound whereby the foundation is a barren, broody and introspective musical cocophany of voices, echoes, sci-fi samples and all-consuming sub bass (think an even darker reworking of the Doom soundtrack). It’s stripped back, minimal, bare and cerebral. But while some may label it as dubstep, Si calls it “the 140bpm sound,” adding: “I’d rather describe it as a tempo as opposed to a genre.”
But at its most exposed, one could say it’s a form of dance music that has exploded bassline first out of the clash between drum’n’bass, garage, reggae and minimal techno. It’s a sound that shakes you to the core – from the depths of your stomach to the inner realms of your mind. Si explains: “Our sound is a bit more thought-provoking than merely giving you a physical hit. But it has that sub bass, that bottom end, so it’s still going to do damage on the dance floor – just in a slightly different way.” And take it from Si that this burgeoning scene is going places in 2010 and beyond: “I really think that the so-called minimal drum’n’bass techno vibe is going to be really, really huge in the next year or two. I really do.”
Of late the scene has also been shaped, with good reason, by a host of former drum’n’bass producers in their own, notable right; 170bpm-makers who have themselves brought a more measured approach to their output. TRG, Martyn, D Bridge and Instra:Mental to name but a few, as well as the scene’s original forces of inspiration and creators such as Steve Gurley, Zed Bias, Digital Mystikz (Mala & Coki, who run the influential DMZ label and related night in South London), Kode9 (of HyperDub), Skream, Hatcha, Loefah and Benga. Producers who, as Si suggests, have brought wise heads to a genre that has its roots most firmly in the UK garage scene. “When (me and Leon) took a break from making drum’n’bass we started making Trentemoller kind of minimal house, so were naturally going down tempo. It was as much an age thing as a desire to try newer things.” Si reiterates the age factor: “Leon’s 30, I’m 32 and it’s gotten to a point now where I listen to drum’n’bass and I think it’s cool, but you can tell we were younger.”
After years of rowdy, drum heavy and relentlessly energetic 12” releases, such as Blueprint, The Truth, Take the Pain Away and Lost All Faith (recorded as Kryptic Minds and Leon Switch) and LPs on Defcom including Lost All Faith, Two Swords and the Blackout compilations, the duo are now happy making much sparser, more contemplative electronic music. Their latest offering, One of Us, was released on Loefah’s recent incarnation Swamp 81 to rave reviews, and is out on vinyl later this year (the CD released late last year has already sold out, but is being re-pressed). The new inspiration also culminated in the duo releasing tracks (such as the “monster in the machine” sounding Life Continuum) on their own label Osiris Music UK. Their latest offering, Badman/Distant (Swamp 81), is to be followed with a split 12” co-produced by Youngsta entitled Cold Blooded/Surge. Not content with releasing a few singles, a new album is already in the works, some of which we’ll be privileged to hear when Leon plays out at Backstage: “In Hong Kong you’ll be getting mainly our own stuff, and stuff you haven’t heard before. There’ll be stuff from the next album. It’s brand, brand new so nobody’s got these tracks.”
As if their name and sound isn’t cryptic enough, their partnership also has a tendency to mutate and disconnect – if only momentarily. Leon is making the One of Us album tour solo (after Hong Kong he heads to New Zealand and Australia), leaving Si to get some work done in the studio in Essex. And yet, because of their special bond that began in 2001 after the untimely death of Si’s brother, whom Leon played in a band with, the two understand each other to a point that they’re practically the same entity. Explains Si, with incredible warmth in his voice: “We’re both Kryptic Minds. We’re like brothers. We’ve known each other and worked together for so long we’re almost like twins, and we know what each other is going to say before we say it. I’ve met some very, very cool people over the years but it’s been nothing like me and Leon in terms of a bond. Musically, friendship wise – we just get on so well.” The mystery continues. Here’s to the future.
Kryptic Minds play Backstage on Sat 10. Tickets $120 adv., $150 on the door (inc one drink).
All info: www.kongkrete.com