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Sci-Fi D & B

Coded Language
(Talkin' Loud/Island)

The only thing that I really knew about Krust upon buying his CD was that he was on the Talkin' Loud label (home of Roni Size, among others) and that I'd heard a really rippin' track by him some time ago on a drum and bass compilation a friend of mine had.

After listening to Coded Language, one of the best descriptions that I can give of his music is to take Roni Size's New Forms and take a left turn after the wicked beats. While the two artists have in common a great ear for beat construction, Krust seems to take a little darker (and little more experimental) route in the construction of his tracks. He uses a lot of female vocals (as well as a couple tracks with male vocals), some wicked upright bass, and he even has a penchant for not keeping things brief (New Forms spanned 2 discs and about 140 minutes, while Coded Language runs 75 minutes and packs one).

The disc starts out with a four-minute instrumental track called "High Plains," and it sets things up nicely for the rest of the album to come. He doesn't waste much time getting down to business, either. After only a minute or so of ambient sounds and some strange electronic gurglings, he throws in all kinds of sci-fi sounds that make it sound somewhat like an alien invasion set to breakbeats. Starting with "Re-Arrange," though, the vocal element enters the picture. Instead of watering things down like 4 Hero's Two Pages, he only lets things simmer for a short time before whipping up everything into a frenzy. It also helps that the vocals by Morgan not only have a sexiness to them, but a sly edge that wraps over the beats nearly perfectly as well. Although it may run a little long at nearly 9 minutes, the track works well because Krust is always managing to throw different sounds into the mix. The strange, futuristic sounds continue on "Tribute," when little bursts of blaster noise and malfunctioning machines provide the noise over yet another wicked beat.

By this time, you probably get the picture of how this album goes. It's atmospheric and smooth, and the beats manage to stay inventive nearly all the time. Even when he's providing a short interlude tracks like "Overture" and "Guilty," he manages to keep things interesting musically. Saul Williams (famous poet and star of the movie Slam) collaborates with Krust to create one of the coolest rapped drum and bass numbers I've heard in a long time. At 75 minutes, the album may run a smidge too long for some listeners, but it's clicking on all cylinders almost all the time. If you like drum and bass (and don't mind vocals), snag this one up quick.

Rating: 7.25