With a career that stretches back to UK dubstep's original heyday, Kromestar has maintained a reputation for quality, creative ingenuity, and relevance as the scene he's been a part of since the early 2000s has grown and evolved around him. Recording under numerous names to compartmentalize his forays into different pockets of bass music, the artist otherwise known as R. Kalsi has returned to his marquee alias, and to Om-Unit's Cosmic Bridge imprint, for his latest effort—one that keeps this cultivated notoriety intact, even if the sounds here are familiar ones.
Leading with "Rhythm on My Mind," Kalsi navigates the tenuous region between crunk, dubstep, and trip-hop without falling victim to any of the trendy pitfalls that can accompany each of these sounds. Shockwaves of smooth-edged synth chords shoot out from the onset as crackling Madlib-style drum programming drags behind the beat. In the opening moments, this rhythm-and-pulse dischord threatens to derail the track entirely, but the composition eventually rights itself, adding depth to the woozy feel of "Rhythm on My Mind." Lush string arrangements, downbeat atmospherics, and a sunk-in bass fuzz reinforce the track's laidback quality, recalling the liquid-bass vibes of Photek's DJ-Kicks—which featured Kromestar's "In 2 Minds"—and other installments in the Cosmic Bridge catalog.
"X-Files" ups the tempo but not the mood, transitioning into a dub D&B territory reminiscent of dBridge & Instra:mental or, maybe more appropriately, a futuristic Sly & Robbie. Rolling bass and closely shaved snares and ride cymbal glide alongside shaker and electro handclap accents. A staccato flute, new-age chimes, and the occasional squelch lend more color as cosmic swooshes and similarly themed synths swell up to complete the mix. The sounds here and on "Rhythm on My Mind" don't lead the listener into new territory, but seeing as how the tunes are coming from Kalsi, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.