MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

DJ Fresh “Nextlevelism”: Album Review

Ministry of Sound (2012)

The founding member of the Breakbeat Kaos label and the influential Dogs on Acid website, as well as one third of supergroup Bad Company, Daniel Stein, aka DJ Fresh, had been an instrumental figure on the underground drum & bass scene for the best part of a decade.

But following the slow-burning success of 2010’s hyper Santogold-esque single, “Gold Dust,” Fresh has become almost as ubiquitous as David Guetta. Now, with a little help from the kind of star-studded guest list you’d expect from the Frenchman, (The Fray, Juliete Lewis, Professor Green) his third studio album should only consolidate his new-found superstar DJ status.

“Louder,” the collaboration with Kosheen’s Sian Evans that became the first ever dubstep track to reach number one in the UK, and second consecutive chart-topper “Hot Right Now,” will already be familiar to many. As will (to a lesser extent) the old-school electro of “The Power,” a slightly watered-down version of Dizzee Rascal’s all-conquering hip-pop featuring Da Boy In Da Corner himself; the generic trancey DnB of “The Feeling”; and a re-recorded version of his breakthrough hit, given an extra sprinkling of magic by former two-step garage queen Ms Dynamite.

But there are plenty of other potential singles in the making. The lead vocalist on Chase & Status’ anthemic “Blind Faith,” soul singer Liam Bailey, strikes classic rave gold again on the turbo-charged “Don’t Tell Me.” “See You Again” continues the glow-stick vibes with an abrasive rock-tinged breakdown that could have escaped from The Prodigy’s first album. And Brighton hip-pop duo Rizzle Kicks lend their abundance of charm to the playful Pendulum-esque “Skyhighiatrist.”

It’s all utterly predictable of course, and in some cases entirely derivative—particularly, “Turn It Up,” which despite a surprisingly spirited turn from failed X-Factor contestant Fleur East, is the kind of hedonistic squelchy electro that even LMFAO would at best, chuck out as a B-side.

Fans of DJ Fresh’s former signature sound may feel slightly affronted therefore, but it’s difficult to think of another commercial dance album which has reflected the current pop landscape so effortlessly.

3 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Electronic Music, Featured


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