The drop in tempo occurring in certain corners of dance music’s hallowed halls is by no means unintentional. For years it seemed the global audience had an insatiable thirst for a style of music that was harder, faster and more manic than what went before. In drum and bass it was particularly evident. Artists who cut their craft of the harder edge of the genre including Raiden, Noisia and TeeBee have taken the genre to the edge of its own intensity, making the early work of LTJ Bukem, Goldie and Roni Size seem positively gentle in comparison. What goes up, must come down and when dnb reached a limit, a new sound found an opening. Hatcha, Kode 9, Benga, Skream, Mala, Loefah and Burial were amongst the first artists to head up a new approach, significantly slower but equally as forceful. It is into this realm that Kryptic Minds were drawn. After a almost a decade at the forefront of dnb, with a string of quality releases, including bona fide anthem, The Truth, the UK production partners have turned to the slower side. It’s a move that looks to have paid off. Their latest album One of Us on the highly regarded Swamp 81 label is a chilling composition of tripped out sound scapes, deep sub bass and haunting abrasion. Dark, brooding and raw, it’s a sublime listening experience.
To map the path of Kryptic Minds we must go first to Essex, about an hour and south of London, home to Si Kryptic Minds and Leon Switch (real names Si Shreeve and Brett Bigden) the talent behind the music. Here the boys grew up, immersed in a healthy local scene (The Prodigy lived 15 minutes away) that was both their classroom and their playground. “Back in the early 90s, there used to be big parties just down the road in Colchester called Rolling Thunder,” recalls Shreeve. “We always wanted to go but were too young to get in!” Despite the odd knockback form the clubs, the boys stuck at it. “We started out playing hip hop. Just learning to mix and scratch on the decks but soon ended up really getting into it.” Moving from hip hop, through to early hardcore, jungle and then dnb, it wasn’t long before they turned their hand to production. “We started doing music in 1996 and had to save hard for a while to build a decent studio up. We didn’t release anything for a couple of years and just spent time really honing our sound to get it right.” It was time well spent and the pair grew into prolific dnb producers with an ear for making tracks that do the damage on the dance floor. But that was then and this is now. Techno, dubstep, minimal dnb? What genre best describes Kryptic Minds in 2010? According to Shreeve, none of them. “If I said to you ‘check out our new dubstep tune’, you might already have an idea what you think it’s gunna sound like. The word ‘dubstep’ can mean lots of different things. If people ask me, I just tell them what tempo it’s at, e.g. 140bpm. Lots of people out there have preconceptions and expectations. We prefer people to make their own judgement of the music – prefer to let them make up their own opinion.” A nice idea in principle, but is it entirely practical? Does it reveal enough? Multiple genres and sub genres might not be liked by everyone, but surely they’re a necessary evil when it comes to dance music?
Regardless of what names he wants to give his own music, Shreeve says Kryptic Minds are always keen to hear other peoples, especially on this, their first trip to Australia “We’re always on the look out for new music and hope to hook up with some fresh sounds. So if you’re a producer, come down to one of the shows and say hello and drop us a CDR!”