Krystal Klear Addiction

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While there is no exact formula dictating the amount of nostalgic appropriation one is allowed to inject into any particular production, existing as openly within the realm of retro-influenced dance music as Krystal Klear does certainly requires a delicate balancing act. Not just incorporating familiar elements of vintage genres into his music, the Mancunian producer has gleefully taken on classic house, disco, and new-jack swing as conceptual guidelines for separate releases over the past three years, at times skirting a little too close to cheesy overindulgence for some. On his latest outing, Krystal Klear shifts his focus onto the world of freestyle, offering up yet another effort that shows his keen ability to look to the past while still working with a voice of his own.

The title tune comes in three different forms on the EP—its original version, a truncated "Radio Edit," and a long-form instrumental mix. In its original shape, "Addiction" is a slow-burning groove, one that begins with a genre-appropriate mix of drum-machine kicks, claps, snares, and cowbells that is quickly met by an enticingly bouncy bassline. Eventually, a procession of keys and sweeping synths fill in the tune, the rich voice of Jenna G (a frequent Krystal Klear collaborator) calmy gliding atop the proceedings. In truth, "Addiction" is more than just a song indebted to freestyle—it is in itself a freestyle track, one made with 20 years of perspective and rendered modern only by a production aesthetic that is tastefully more detailed and denser than it would have been in the mid '80s (still, it's worth noting that Krystal Klear makes no attempt to bolster the track with an unnecessary amount of bass weight).

The two vocal versions of "Addiction" found on the EP are worthwhile endeavors. Jenna G's delivery fits the atmosphere of the tune extremely well, and the melodic twists between the verse and chorus—which lands on some gorgeous harmonies—are a smart mix of catchy and rewarding. Still, it is the "Special 12" Extended Instrumental" version of the song that steals the show. Initially moving through its almost nine-minute run as a simple vocal-less rendering of the original track, the song turns a new corner around the five-minute mark, piling layer upon layer of interlocked synth lines into a seemingly endless build that eventually comes back to earth for one last push. Similarly, bonus cut "No Sweat" operates without a vocalist by its side, trading in a bit of the lead tune's freestyle influence for a more disco-friendly take that works an enveloping array of '80s-sounding keys and melodies atop its coy groove.

It's anyone's guess as to how long Krystal Klear plans on exploring the freestyle infatuation he displays on Addiction. From the sound of the offerings heard here though, it seems there is enough fertile ground left to fill a few more similarly enjoyable releases.