“The Edge of Everything” by Krust has undoubtedly created a rejuvenated interest in drum and bass. What makes it more exciting is that the furore centres around the return of a pioneering artist from the 90s, not the sound of the 90s or a perceived jungle resurgence (we all know it never went anywhere). Catching the attention of the media, with positive comments in publications diverse as the Metro (a daily London newspaper) and “rock’n’roll” focused magazine Mojo, “The Edge of Everything” has once again put drum and bass firmly in the spotlight.
For hardened fans of 170 BPM sonic experiments “The Edge of Everything” may not go far enough, a contingent of the 90s crew may be left thinking “where are all the breaks?” after the rolling intro of “Hegel Dialect” might give the impression the LP was going to lean to a more retro sound. As a drum and bass fan who has a passion for both of these styles, it’s when you except that the album was never going to be as straightforward as a continuation of “Coded Language”, or was ever going to contain an unreleased 90s VIP of “Jazz Note” that the LP really comes to life and can be enjoyed in all its cinematic glory.
At the end of my first listen, I wasn’t really sure what I thought about the album. I’ve since played “The Edge of Everything” a number of times and still manage to discover new things I like about it (the spoken word and ambient sections particularly striking a chord). For a long time, I’ve said drum and bass shouldn’t always sound like the golden years of 93-96 and this collection of moods and soundscapes certainly lives up to that mantra. A lot of 90s producers have been vocal over the last couple of years about making a return or producing new music, often never materialising. Krust has achieved what I always hoped, a return to the ethos that made him such a pivotal player in pushing drum and bass forward, without returning to the sounds we all know and love.
I’d urge anyone who has played the clips and thought it wasn’t for them, to play the album through in its entirety, once, twice, three times… the more you invest in the album the more you’ll get out of it. It’s a luxury a lot of artists can’t afford, I’m sure if one of the less established producers from the burgeoning 170 scene had crafted this it wouldn’t be up for DJ Mags “Album Of The Year” award for example. “The Edge of Everything” rewards research into its origin and is best approached with an open mind, if ever a modern drum and bass album warranted sleeve notes this would be it.
My hope is that it introduces people from outside the scene to artists like DYL, RQ and ASC as well as labels like UVB-76 and Pinecone Moonshine who have been pushing the more experimental side of DnB for a number of years, largely unnoticed by the mainstream.
The list of artists on remix duties is exciting but perhaps not quite what you’d expect, featuring pioneers from the electronic music scene rather than modern jungle luminaries. Masters At Work craft an early 2000 style broken beat version of “Antigravity Love”, complete with bonus KenLou dubs. Batu delivers a suitably out-there take on “Space Oddity”, resembling a wild journey through the cosmos and Crosstown Rebels label boss Damian Lazarus weaves a mystical cosmic tapestry of 4/4’s and electronic bass to create a hypnotic take on “Keter The Heavenly”.
The real highlight of the first remix package comes from Four Tet and his first drum and bass production. Beginning with a mystical chime melody, this optimistic and melodic spin on “Negative Returns” slowly builds layers of looped drums to create a funky and organic roller. As the remix progresses, the instantly recognisable riff from the original takes the track on a more electronic path before the chime melody returns with added PFM style pads. Its been a great year for music, and the arrival of Kieran Hebden to the 170 landscape might just have resulted in my favourite remix of 2020.
As mentioned earlier, I’d highly recommend listening to the album in full. Ideally with no expectations as to where you think it might go. With that in mind, one last bit of advice, avoid the edits of “Antigravity Love” and “Constructive Ambiguity”. The original versions of those two tracks deserve to be listened to in full and in context of the LP. The fact they don’t follow an easily consumed template arrangement is a strength, not something that should be dismantled.