Kraak & Smaak - Chrome Waves
Album Review

Kraak & Smaak – Chrome Waves

Dutch dance trio Kraak and Smaak return with a new full length album, their production as slick and as polished as ever.

The album’s opener, and first single, is uplifting house anthem The Future is Yours, winner of Mixmag’s tune of the month. It features a deep, heavy bassline, cool piano riffage, and vocals reminiscent of dance tracks of the 90s. This track is perfect for grooving away on a warm summer’s night in Ibiza – inspirational and thoroughly danceable with just a hint of melancholy. How We Gonna Stop the Time begins like a minimal techno track but becomes rich in texture as the layers of bass, synth and piano creep in. The warm, tingly chord progression is augmented by Stee Downes’ vocals. This track is sheer house bliss. Kraak and Smaak like to keep it simple, unassuming, and very, very effective.

The trio also keep things interesting, changing styles with the next track Good for the City. Earmarked as their next single, this track is funkier than James Brown and Bootsy Collins on amphetamine, with a catchy bassline, squelchy synths and disco style strings in the outro. Combined with the vocals of Sam Duckworth, this track sounds like a collaboration between DMX Krew and Daft Punk. The Upper Hand begins with some mind-blowing layered synth parts. This track is so idyllic the listener doesn’t know whether to dance or just lie back and think profound thoughts. This track features Capitol A on vocals, perhaps not the best idea Kraak and Smaak have ever had. While not terrible, the rapping detracts somewhat from the fantastic music behind it and doesn’t suit it all that much. Like a tie on a denim shirt.

The following track, Love Inflation, begins with some sublime synth, hinting at a more chilled out affair. It morphs into a tense house piece with a subtle Italo-disco influence, smooth, syncopated drum fills and some twangy bass guitar. Janne Schra’s vocals combine beautifully with Kraak and Smaak’s production.

Things take a turn for the experimental with Your Body, a darker, more abstract piece with an organic drum beat, dissonant synths and murky bassline. The vocal sample gets unnecessarily repetitive but otherwise this is a decent track. Where You Been offers some respite from the relentless grooving of this album. It opens with some interesting, off-key synth bells sounds. The intro builds slowly into a sparse, laidback beat – the album’s most chilled out track.

The four-to-the-floor beat and thunderous bassline of F.A.M.E reprises the deep house vibe of the beginning of Chrome Waves, while Just Wanna Be Loved takes the listener back to funkytown, with slap bass, organ, choppy guitar riffs and shuffling hi-hats. It features some sparkling synth textures and the soulful vocals of Joi Cardwell. Don’t Let People opens with some unexpected pitched percussion, showing how Kraak and Smaak can keep things fresh even at this late stage in the album. The track undergoes several metamorphoses before returning to its original theme. The album ends as stirringly as it began with funky disco-house track Back Again.

Chrome Waves showcases Kraak and Smaak’s musical ability and sophisticated production, in particular their master manipulation of synthesisers. It is certainly a summery dance album but more than suitable for dance floors anytime, anywhere. And hey, there’s always next summer…

– Adam Greenwood

Venue: Chrome Waves
Support Band: Jalapeno Records

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