TFword Review: Chase & Status – What Came Before

Pioneers, risk takers and trendsetters- these are words that pair appropriately when you use Chase & Status in a conversation about bass music.

For nearly two decades, the London-based duo have had a generational impact on drum & bass and bass music in general. Their extraordinary style of music that brings influences from several genres and cultures is some of the most exciting music we have heard since the duo’s inception in 2003.

Saul Milton (Chase) and Will Kennard (Status) met in college through their unified love for drum & bass and after dabbling with a number of sounds, they decided to go on a full-throttle assault for the years to come which included five seminal album and numerous charting hits in a number of countries.

Every album was seminal in its own right but their 2011 album, ‘No More Idols’ changed absolutely and literally everything. Featuring some of the finest British names like Tinie Tempah, Dizzee Rascal, Clare Maguire, Tempa T, White Lies, the album revolutionized bass music as a whole.

The duo sold over 1 million singles in the UK making them the biggest act in Britain after cementing their releases in the UK Top 40 for 35 weeks which earned them double-platinum status. The duo’s next two albums had the same impact, but their ‘RTRN II JUNGLE’ album in 2019 changed the game once again. It also ensured that they stayed true to their roots by perfectly balancing the rugged, raw Reggae and their razor-sharp production techniques. 

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After their ‘RTRN II FABRIC’ compilation in 2020 followed by a couple of singles, Chase & Status have dropped their 6th studio album called ‘What Came Before’. And as we’ve come to expect from the duo, it is avant-garde, futuristic and influential.

The album at its core was made to depict the times we were in during the rampage of pandemic and the flurry of raves across the world that followed when it stopped its menacing spread. The album wastes no time in making its feeling known with ‘Don’t Be Scared’ featuring Takura for a crunching dubstep banger with swatches of eastern elements.

Then comes ‘Go’, a track that is soaked with industrial breaks and sinister sonics and it serves as the perfect prelude for ‘Censor’ featuring the duo recent mainstay collaborator IRAH for a ragga-tinged drum & bass number. ‘Mixed Emotions’ and ‘Over & Done’ featuring Pip Millet is a style of DnB that we don’t often see from Chase & Status, but who are we kidding? When they do it, they do it the best and these tunes with their liquid DnB textures have an air of defiance with its shimmering melodies.

‘Run Up’ takes us straight onto their ‘RTRN II JUNGLE’ train which heavily featured the riddim heavy style of productions. ‘5am’ is exactly when you should listen to the tune, because of tech-house and breaks like influences with a tinge of Jazz. IRAH comes back on to the album for ‘Headtop’ but this time is the complete opposite of his first tune in the album with its pitched down approach taken by Chase & Status.

‘When It Rains’ with its gritty bassline shapes up to be the perfect mid-set tune while ‘Hold Your Ground’ feels like their own ode to ‘All Goes Wrong’ from the 2017 album, ‘Tribe’. It’s Chase & Status we are talking about, and they were not going to let the album finish with a bang. The pounding conclusion of the album brings IRAH for the third time on ‘Blazer’. ‘Consciousness’ has the perfect mix of progression, light, dark and ska elements. ‘Forgive Dark’ serves as the ideal closing tune depiciting the wavey narrative of the album. WHAT AN ALBUM!!

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