Single Review: High Contrast – Almost Human (Feat. Clare Maguire)
It’s interesting when you take someone like High Contrast, a highly respected drum and bass artist, and team him up with Clare Maguire – one of the BBC’s tips for success last year. Sure, it might seem strange on paper and even stranger when you check out Maguire’s debut – a mature pop record that didn’t focus much attention on the blips and beeps of electronic music. But ‘Almost Human’, a track from Lincoln Barrett’s sixth album proves that risks were meant to be taken, particularly when the outcome is as sonically pleasing as the material he’s producing here.
Clare Maguire might have taken a different route for her debut record, but, admittedly, her voice is no stranger to the dance genre as her appearance on Chase and Status’ ‘Midnight Caller’ and the lauded Breakage remix of her debut ‘Ain’t Nobody’ proved. Maguire proved on ‘Light After Dark’ how easily she can convey a wealth of emotion in her siren-like serenades that sit beautifully atop the intense hook on ‘Almost Human’ and hearing the entirety of her range being explored is a pretty magical experience and, if anything, serves to prove that this is the style of music that encompasses her talents and displays them at their best.
There is an undeniable vibe of unease here and that haunting quality is both endearing and captivating; the layers of sound on High Contrasts compositions leave something to uncover with every listen and the beauty of his productions are indescribable. From the brooding guitar and evocative piano that characterise the build up in the verses to the driving chorus that brings a beautiful crescendo into the mix, It’s undeniable that ‘Almost Human’ is an expertly written track as it’s almost tangible atmosphere hangs beautifully over the composition and serves to promise great things from the record ‘The Agony & The Ecstasy’.
So perhaps it was fate that things should turn out this way and Clare should find her calling alongside Lincoln Barrett’s intelligent take on drum and bass and whilst this might not leave much to say about the vocalists future, it does promise a lot of good things for the man behind the music. Alongside the title track, all signs for ‘The Agony & The Ecstasy’ are bathing in a hopeful light; think Chase and Status mixed with a dose of Massive Attack and you will be heading on the right path. Balancing on the peripheries of acclaim, the track serves as a fantastic reintroduction to the vocal talents of Clare Maguire but works even more wonders in the development of one of the most skilled dance musicians the country has to offer.
Words: Simon McMurdo