Soulful synthesised vocals ring out with the sample line 'love has gone, and then lovers go!' churning the momentum as the album's opening track soars into an invigorating drop. The song both carries you like a river and shakes you up like a rollercoaster. The formula is simple but the predictability of the rises and falls takes nothing away from the adrenaline, taunting any listener who tries to keep still.
Netsky was always going to have a hard task on his hands to trump the explosive success of his eponymous first album, released in 2009. However, with a 15-track album you can't say this drum and bass heavyweight hasn't risen to the challenge. However, album previews for '2' were divisive; a focus on catchy melodies and the prominence of vocals, instead of scatty hi-hats and pounding bass, prompted criticism of being too 'poppy.'
Questions rose as to whether albums like '2' are transforming drum and bass into a mainstream genre. Likewise, some accused Netsky of losing touch with the likes of heavier producer DJ Hype, whose fingers have been at the turntables since the birth of drum and base over 20 years ago.
Indeed, '2' isn't what you would have heard at a warehouse rave 20 years ago, nor is it the same as Netsky's debut album. But what is gripping is that Netsky has bravely wandered away from the path of original drum and bass; he totters into the arena of house, takes a dip in dubstep and, shockingly for some, brushes shoulders with grime in brazen track 'Squad Up' featuring US rapper Jimmy Jams. The first listen is comparable to tasting some outlandish new food that your palate isn't used to. You might to spit it out, but give it patience and you'll wonder why you never tried it before. Netsky qualifies his deviation from the purer liquid sound of his original material saying: "The album came natural...I felt much more open minded."
The texture in '2' makes the album far from static; the variation between tracks is reminiscent of travelling, which acutely mirrors the processes the artist went through in producing it. Netsky justifies the disparity between the genres by his encounters and discoveries when touring the world. He says: "There's tracks I worked on in Australia two years ago, there's tracks I worked on in South Africa a couple of months ago. So it would explain a totally different feel behind the track." Bearing this in mind, we are encouraged to praise Netsky's versatility, rather than criticise his inconsistency.
The order of the tracks accentuates the cross-genre mishmash, but equally enriches the album's fascination. The album ends on a high with 'Drawing straws' which takes on a more raw jungle persona: a rocket paced recipe of minimal running syncopated drumlines and dark subs.
Since its release on 25 June the overall impression has been inconclusive. Admittedly, Netsky's experimentation does mean some tracks are hit and miss (don't be afraid to skip the likes of 'Dubplate special,' a bizarre 48 second interlude comprising purely of 'N-n-n-n-n-n-netksy' being chanted in a thick Jamaican accent.) What is clear is that Netsky takes us on a feel-good ride through a panorama of funky electronic sound where the drums seem to run and the horizon feels boundless. Warning: do not attempt to listen unless you want to dance.
'2' by Netsky is available to buy now.
Average price: £10.00