So everybody’s been talking about the death of Dubstep (not to mention the death of hip-hop, authenticity, and the author) and the ascendance of lighter, more party-oriented steppas’ delights; you know, the funky, 2-steppy, post-garage stuff that’s been ruling the dancefloors on both sides of the pond. I’d tend to agree that some of this half-time wobbly shit is getting a little old as musicians prioritize industrial synth patches and raved-out aural violence over the percussive subtlety, minimalism, and negative space that early Dubstep borrowed so well from Dub itself. I’m not saying the wobbly shit is no good, I’m just saying that to include banging wobble bass at the expense of the many elements that make a tune worth hearing is a sad mistake, and one that’s being made all over the place. I won’t name any names, but you know who you are.
Regardless, what I mean to say is that, despite all these (understandably) resentful listeners claiming the death of Dubstep left and right (shortest-lived genre ever?), the eyes-down, half-time skank is in fact alive and kicking, thanks to a few innovative artists doing their thing, both in Europe and the United States.
First up is Gemmy, part of the “purple” contingent- you know, Joker, Ginz, Gemmy, Guido, Rustie- that’s managed to tastefully incorporate elements of West Coast hip-hop, glitchy chiptune jams, and bashy Grime, among other things, into the Dubstep vocabulary to stretch the sound just that much further. He’s just released a new single on Earwax, one of my number one labels right now, having released some of my favorite work from Ginz, Liondub, and Jack Sparrow. This is some square-wave, half-step euphoria that builds and drops in all the right places; subtlety certainly isn’t the name of the game, more like satisfaction, precision, and bass-weight. “Last 3 Digits” is definitely the highlight of the single. Buy the vinyl at Boomkat, wait for the digital release, or head over to the Earwax website to enter for a chance to win a signed, limited-edition test pressing direct from the label.
Oh and speaking of wobbly, hardcore Dubstep that doesn’t suck, ‘yall should check out I.D.’s Mustang EP; he’s released a free VIP remix of the title track to promote the EP, which has me eyes down staring at my skanking feet as I rave around my room. You can download I.D. – Mustang VIP for FREE at his soundcloud account, or pick up the whole EP at Beatport; this stuff reminds me of early Benga, N-Type, or Kromestar, except a little busier and with a breakier edge. Good stuff.
Up next is Sepalcure’s debut EP on the indefatigable Hotflush record label; these two dudes, Travis Stewart (Machinedrum) and Praveen Sharma are a little bit more on that syncopated, ethereal end of the spectrum, with dense layers of unusual, yet coherent, percussion arrangements, crisp, swingin’ hi-hats, liquid atmospheric sounds, and soulful vocals that create the right mood without being overly referential or tacky. ‘Cuz we all know how tacky soul vocals can be. The four-track EP is undoubtedly feeding off of the energy coming out of this flourishing UK house scene, but manages to retain that marijuana-friendly lean-back lighters-in-the-air vibe that makes us love Dubstep so much. This four track EP is out on vinyl, and available digitally at Beatport.
And while we’re on the subject of that PURPLE ‘ISH – which I may get sick of at some point but definitely haven’t as of yet- I just stumbled upon this brand new Kavsrave EP out on Numbers, another infallible record label with an EXTREMELY AWESOME website.
Though I doubt this record needs any help getting sold, it’s worth talking about; it’s riding on the same contemporary wavelength with gorgeous, floating RnB vocals, fat, saturated synths that can satisfy you even through laptop speakers, and unmistakably hip-hop influenced drum-machine beats that will turn any hype dancefloor into a cavern of nasty stanky slow dance. Download it over at Boomkat and keep your eye on Numbers because I can assure you that label is the future!!
‘Till next time.