Dubstep fans have a lot to be happy about, the genre is on the up-and-up, rising in popularity at unprecedented rates, as 2009 may have been its best year yet. Yet with all the stylistic variations evolving out of dubstep, and with all the high school teenagers showing up at shows, and with the sheer amount of music being released online right now, one almost has to wonder (perhaps even worry) …
Search Results for "dubstep"
What ever happened to dubstep as we knew it in America? Some say it was a dead genre even before it broke out here in the US. Its hay day had come and gone before most Americans heard it, before the resurgence of that awful acronym EDM, the sort of empty (even more esoteric) descriptor equal to ‘electronica’ – used by adherents to the traditional music model who can’t wrap their head around anything more complex than a superficial catch-all label. Pangaea, as a component of the Hessle Audio imprint, may have been one of the few to whisk parts of the real sound away before it too had been raped, but even when you listen to a mix like this, it’s post- just about everything. Still, the music conjures up imagery – this track in particular off his new Resident Advisor mix gives me the sensation of hanging out in some cyberpunk sky bike garage, with glowing purple ion motor fuel dripping into puddles to mix with space beer on the ground, and thugs with mohawks and artificial limbs going about their agenda for the day.
I’m going to have to ask you to open up your mind big time with the selection of tunes today, as they run the gamut. Most of these tunes are reserved, and either moody or subdued, but not necessarily negative. These tracks are more introverted and observant, like watching people scurry about on the streets below from the window of a 30th-floor office, or noticing the patterns made by droplets of rain as they slide down, cutting through the fog on the glassy surface.
Rafael Anton Irisarri – Moments Descend On My Windowpane – SMM: Context
If you haven’t yet heard of SMM, and you’re into Ambient, or Moodgadget’s Low Level sound, you should get acquainted with Ghostly‘s newest compilation, SMM: Context. Hailed by Pitchfork as, “an accurate and often gorgeous snapshot of a loose affiliation of ideas coalescing into a genre,” the acronym of SMM itself is as mysterious as the musicians who make it. There is a lot of rich sonic quality throughout each of the carefully-chosen compositions, complete with Michael Cina’s par-for-the-course jaw-dropping artwork that might come closest to conveying what SMM can be likened to. Kyle Bobby Dunn impresses with a piece that hints he is one of the few composers out there who remembers when music was engineered to echo high above head in cathedral ceilings, The Fun Years gives us a strangely familiar collage of noise and melody, while The Sight Below, as Rafael Anton Irisarri, contributes a bit of epic dramatic soundtrack to score our own lives and make us feel like someone else might want to watch or read about it one day many years from today.
Kaito – And That Was The Way (Echospace’s Shinjuku Sedative) – Trust Less
Good dub techno is probably the most prized material around my space when it comes time for me to be productive. Not only is dub techno as rare as a white tiger in today’s world of techno and tech house, but good dub techno is like a saber tooth tiger, with Echospace being kind of like a white sabertooth unicorn tiger. Echospace is Rob Modell (aka Deepchord) and Stephen Hitchell (aka Soultek). The two have curated Echospace as both a musical duo, and as a dub techno label, which has seen the passing of the torch from early pioneers and household names like Basic Channel and Maurizio. Since I’ve posted about them before, I don’t need to go into further detail, just check out that older post, or this one on ISO50 where Jakub originally posted this remix of Kaito.
Maurizio – M07A (Edit) – M-series
Speaking of Maurizio, I just discovered the M-series, a collection of tracks, all bearing a title with an M-designation, from the co-owner of Basic Channel Records. What really floored me was the discovery that all these chilled, minimalistic dub tunes with hints of reggae sprinkled throughout, were from 1997. In 1997, I didn’t know of much more than 311 and Rage Against the Machine. It would be at least a year, even, before I would discover the Orb and Meat Beat Manifesto, and many more years before Daft Punk would hit my speakers, all of whom were in operation during this period. Can you blame me for not knowing when I was still 11 years old playing Turok and Star Wars on N64? This stuff would have made a radical soundtrack for blasting away velociraptors and storm troopers.
Gil Scott Heron & Jamie xx – My Cloud
Gil Scott-Heron has been a favorite of mine for many years now, another incredible musician and poet who was around long before I was born, who I eventually discovered and came to appreciate, and who by all means, I should never have been exposed to until the time was right. Gil Scott-Heron used to be one of the most prominent black activists of the sixties and seventies, releasing an essential collection of jazz, soul, R&B, spoken word, and poetry, all charged with political and social energy that reflected the struggles of the time, which many of us, myself included, will never fully be able to understand. Even still, it can be listened to, enjoyed, and appreciated, race or socio-economic status aside, as evidenced by 22-year-old Jamie xx’s (of The xx) re-working of Heron’s return to the spotlight, I’m New Here. In many ways, I see Jamie xx rephrasing GSH’s instrumentation to reach the new generation. I hear in other tracks on the album a feeling of Mount Kimbie, or Sepalcure-esque dubstep sensibility. There’s a sense of jazz, however, especially in tracks like this, that remains encapsulated in the mood, that makes you start to think of electronic as the new face of jazz music. Make up your mind for yourself and check out the collaboration between Gil Scott Heron and Jamie xx, We’re New Here.
It’s a mere couple weeks before I make the move to New York City, so please excuse the calmness around here in light of all the last-minute projects and obligations I have been getting handled before this transition finally commences. There has been a torrent of great two-step in the last few months, here’s what I’ve been loving recently.
Mount Kimbie – Carbonated – Crooks & Lovers
Mount Kimbie, if you haven’t heard already, is completely slaying imaginations and captivating listeners everywhere with a sound that transcends almost any genre label you try to apply to it. With their new release Crooks & Lovers on Hotflush, the UK production duo advances their sound further with a wildly catchy assortment of popping, percolating hi’s that complement without capitulating to deep, resonant, and at times even cavernous lo’s. This track might serve as the best summation of Mount Kimbie at this point in time (including remixes and live sets), but the album, which is another strong contender for release of the year in my book, encompasses ideas far to great to be conveyed through just one selection, so do yourself a favor and check this baby out!
Actress – Senorita – Splazsh
Today’s other very strong candidate for album of the year comes from Actress, the album is called Splazsh, and I’d be inclined to say the same genre-defying description applies to it, were it not for the fact that Darren himself has chosen a term for his sound, “R&B Concréte.” Mixing shards of R&B with an attention to engineering detail a la musique conréte, the terms UK garage and two step are hardly fitting for music that successfully conveys a sense of artistry that has become largely devoid in today’s sub-obsessed sphere of dubstep influence (I bring dubstep into this because I’ve seen Actress and Loefah share the marquee at Dub War, playing one after the other), too concerned with the worthy cause of blasting bass to imbue their songs with the feel like listeners are experiencing fine art.
Ditchdigger – douglassferns (demo)
Earlier in the summer, I had a chance meeting with a talented unsigned producer named Joe Prewitt, out there bullying genre boundaries under the name Ditchdigger. We had a small afterparty at the crib after Plastic Fantastic/Fountain Green, playing DJ mini-set popcorn. Among the material he gave us a listen to, which spanned cold mid-tempo dub techno to more organic house blends, it all had my attention much in the same way that Floating Points and Joy Orbison did when I first heard them. Since then we’ve kept in touch, and the more we find shared musical influences from Merck to Hotflush, the more I personally get excited for what kind of tunes I will hear next. Maybe there’s more of a future in diggin’ ditches than mother warned us.
Prepare to hear the track that started it all for me with this Sepalcure I’ve been raving about all year. Travis and Praveen just decided to share one of their earliest productions on RCRD.LBL blog, some free love(step) that everyone who reads Blog.H34 should have in their library. There honestly isn’t much else to say that hasn’t already been said, so just enjoy this one!
While it seems like 2010 got off to a slow musical start, the torrent of summer releases is literally turning the tide with exciting material. Today, we’ll take another look (a double take, in some cases) at what’s hot, what’s heating up, and in the process save you some time sifting through the crap.
Sepalcure – Love Pressure – Love Pressure EP
Few 2010 releases have had me as excited as Sepalcure‘s debut Love Pressure EP. If you haven’t yet heard what Mary Anne Hobbs of BBC’s Radio 1 called, “one of the finest releases I’ve heard in a thousand years,” now is your chance– it’s out today, courtesy of UK-based Hotflush. I remember the first time I heard this track, it had me begging for a replay the entire rest of the weekend. It’s appealing, as with most forms of this new lovestep groove, for it’s emphasis on balance– sure there’s plenty of sub in there to be enjoyed, but there is a melodic aspect on top, and a further layer of percussive savagery on top of that. It’s almost as simple as it is complex, as appropriate for the dance floor as it is for the bedroom, and certainly as worthy of your listening consideration as any other release you’ll come across in the dubstep section this year.
James Blake – CMYK – CMYK EP
Young James Blake is on fire, making enough consistent noise to stay on everyone’s speakers and in conversations since his debut, he’s made quick, almost systematic work, of converting listeners of every sub-genre of two step, not to mention plenty of those on the periphery, to appreciate his categorization-eluding style, which is almost subtle and overt at the same time, blending ephemeral R&B samples (can you hear Aaliyah in there? *swoon*) with basslines and beats that defy Garage and even IDM without going off the deep, glitchy edge. His newest EP, CMYK, came out last month on R&S Recordings.
Ital Tek – Strangelove V.I.P. – Midnight Colour
One label I really don’t know enough about, despite housing some of my other favorite dubstep artists like Starkey and FaltyDL, is Planet Mu. Well it just so happens that Planet Mu just released an excellent full-length from Ital Tek, another musician who has found themselves happy at home with a strong, reputable label for a few years now. Midnight Colour, Ital Tek’s newest outing shows restraint without muzzling the pure heat being channeled into the track. This samurai-esque sense of restraint is more apparent than before, the darkness is certainly still abundant, but colorful melodic strands shimmer like LCD lights (note, not neon lights), brighter than ever, giving this a bit more heart and soul. Definitely moving in the right directions.
JDSY – Lighter – Blue Newspaper
JDSY‘s newest full-length, and third Moodgadget release was released today– Blue Newspaper. Despite having an album cover that seems to have foretold the BP Gulf Spill disaster, play a track or two and things quickly become real clear: this is future music you’re listening to. Blue Newspaper is wildly eclectic, but a bit more positive this time around, without abandoning the darker aspects of avant pop abound in the record. Of this standout track, Lighter, Joey explains, “the song came about from me trading samples with Jay Bodley (A Setting Sun, Guardian), and the majority of the sounds are from his song, remixed into lighter, totally different direction but his influence is there as far as crisp hip hop sounds there are in there.” You can stream the entire album here.
Today’s post will be a mix of some of the best new dub techno, dubstep, and ambient sound I could find. We’ll warm things up, turn down the light, and then drone off into the ocean. Today’s art is some of the incredible futuristic concept art (by Sparth Construct) I’ve been checking out at the very well-curated Concept Ships blog. Oh, and speaking of the ocean and the catastrophic gulf spill that has been unfolding in the wake of barrel-fulls of failure and frustration, check out my newest submission to Typcut, a more detailed post about the design will be forthcoming as I see how the idea grows.
Federsen – Octavian – Magnetic Transmissions
I’ve got to say, good dub techno has been hard to come by this year, but the Venice-based Deep in Dub netlabel, helmed by Maurizio Miceli, is among a few community-based netlabels, similar to Thinner or Beko DSL, where many releases are free, and listeners, producers, and DJ’s can all come together and discuss it. Federsen has a FREE new release out called Magnetic Transmissions, tracks like this make me wonder why such great dub is so rare these days. Big props to the Deep in Dub crew for keeping it sizzlin’ hot.
Breakage – Vial (ft. Burial) – Foundation
Last year I posted up a great tune by dubstep/dnb producer Breakage, dark and brooding, it had the low-pitched growl of darkstep in the bassline, with the background of rainfall, it made for an immersive if not slightly pulpy listening experience. His newest release, Foundation, features a couple stand-out collaborations, including this one with none other than the famed and elusive antihero of dubstep, Burial. This track has enough of Burial’s signature style to sound almost like a track left out of his landmark ’07 release Untrue.
Kyle Bobby Dunn – Dissonant Distances – Rural Route No. 2
Kyle Bobby Dunn dropped me a line recently with his newest release– the two-part Rural Route No. 2. As a musician whose music plays almost nightly in my sleep playlists, I find a piece like Dissonant Distances to live in an entirely different realm. This is ambient drone music, to be sure, but KBD also exhibits his classical leanings in what might be the most prominent way I’ve yet heard. The wax-smooth sound of string instruments become submerged as colossal earthquake-rumbling lows grow and resonate in a glacial crescendo. This belongs in a playlist you listen to while awake and able to attend to it, it’s entirely too dominant to function simply as background music, which as you might know, is remarkably rare in the genre of ambience.
Kuniyuki Takahashi – Ocean Waves (Minilogue Dream Drone Remix)
A short while back, I had posted a solid Kuniyuki Takahashi release called Koss. Well, I have to say this is definitely sitting high on my favorite EPs of the year already, and it’s really more thanks to the incredible, incredibly diverse selection of remixes from Minilogue. I had posted the deep, dubby remix of Ocean Waves earlier, but there is a more ambient dub techno version, and then this drone version, which are notable not only for sounding great on their own, but also for sounding cohesive together. Being able to express that many takes on an original track is astounding, this is a highly recommended EP.
If you have been following dubstep closely, or if you have been following the dubstep posted on Blog.H34, you are probably catching wind of this new sound, with an emphasis on balance between elements on the track, and not just focusing on blowing out speakers, which is undeniably fun, but is already starting to lose its novelty. Genre categorization of this sound across the various artists isn’t easy, as there are different elements coming together– an emphasis on smooth pads, glitchy hi percussion, and heavy, molasses-thick basslines. Turn your speakers up now.
Sepalcure – Every Day of My Life (Live Drawing Video ft. Sougwen)
Sepalcure are my friends Travis (Machinedrum, Tstewart, Syndrone, etc.) and Praveen (proprietor of Percussion Lab), and last Friday, they played at one of the staple events of American dubstep culture– Dub War, in NYC. Having first really gotten into dubstep at Dub War, I was savagely excited to return to cavernous club Love in Manhattan, but what left me feeling even more geeked than before the show was seeing the sardine-packed crowd that showed up grooving to Sepalcure as hard as they did to Loefah when he played last year. I’m told people in the crowd were throwing money at the booth…someone should tell them to save it for next month when their debut Love Pressure EP comes out on Hotflush!
Ike Release – Iridescent – (split release w/ XXXY)
Speaking of Percussion Lab, if you are digging today’s tunes, than you need to do yourself a favor and tune into the radio show on Radio23.org Mondays from 9-11pm EST, where you’ll hear new fresh cuts like this one from Ike Release. I was definitely drawn in by the LTJ Bukem-esque synth pads that start this track off, which should come as no surprise, seeing as how atmospheric/liquid DnB used to be my jungle subgenre of choice. The percolating hi’s and slightly tribal stabs give this a rainforest-hot temperature that’d make you sweat standing naked outside in February.
2562 – Flashback – Unbalance
These next two tracks are ones I’ve heard in some of my favorite dubstep mixes, but never thought to look up on Beatport or iTunes…until last night. This heavy roller alternates between lumbering with agility and stuttering with glitch effects. It’s off 2562‘s 2009 release Unbalance, which features some really cool album art (pictured above). This is more on the techno tip of dubstep, some kind of post-garage zone that fuses together big boomin’ bass for the bass heads, techno for the Detroit hustlas, snippets of dub techno and IDM, there’s just one thing left to be desired: MOAR!!!
Mount Kimbie – 50 Mile View – Sketch on Glass
Finally, yet another dope Mount Kimbie tune from Sketch on Glass that I slept on until I heard it in the mix…it almost sounds like two tracks, which despite the brief playtime of three and a half minutes, exhibit a tantalizing sense of duality, starting dark and evil, only to switch gears to a whimsical, funky and playful positive tone two minutes in. I can’t really tell what the vocals are saying yet, some kind of lament over whether things will be alright…it’s intriguing. In Mount Kimbie’s case, I wouldn’t worry, things will definitely be alright for them if they continue releasing such hot flames, it leaves us begging for more of the type of original material that gets remixed time and time again.
This past week/end, my good friend Jay Bodley, also known as A Setting Sun and Guardian, came to visit me in Philly and to shoot a music video for one of his tracks. I’m excited to begin working on the material, a total of 134 movie files, which I was able to narrow down to 77…hours of footage await nonetheless. Saturday, we went to Rizumu‘s Socks + Slippers Session II, which brought in two artists from staple Berlin-based minimal label, Raster Noton– the label’s co-founder, Olaf Bender (as Byetone), and Aoki Takamasa. As a big RN fan, who has posted about his love of it here on Blog.H34, Jay had me excited to see what was in store.
Opening things up was Sweat Shoppe, a multimedia performance collaboration between two New-York based artists: Bruno Levy and Blake Shaw. Their set features one thing we don’t see nearly enough of, which is 3D visuals. Surprising given the recent 3D TV/movie craze, which I personally think is bunk– here is a more practical use of the technology. They played a lengthy set of dark minimal and tech house to accompany the dynamic visuals, which looked cool even without the glasses. The video above is a demonstration of some of the 3D technology they employ in grander performances, pretty amazing.
Byetone – Plastic Star (Session) – Death of a Typographer
Byetone took the stage later in the night, with a visual accompaniment of his own– a minimal, line and shape-based setup that twitched and tweaked with the somewhat glitchy but heavily-grounded beats he’s known for. The best part of the performance was the counting visuals that played along with Plastic Star (Session) from his 2008 “snapshot” album Death of a Typographer, something I’d heard about before and was pleasantly surprised when I realized I was now witnessing them. Here’s a video to give you an idea, the sound is completely blown out, so you might just stick to the real track while you watch, the beats do sync up if you mute the video.
Aoki Takamasa – Rn5-09 – RN Rhythm Variations
Aoki Takamasa provided the night’s final performance, with a set that delved even deeper into the warm, mechanical, bass-blasting sound of the night. I thought the live set was much more cohesive than listening to the recorded versions of his material, I don’t know how to describe it. Having seen him spend much of the night before his set in the audience rocking out and genuinely having a good time with everyone, I think a lot of people in the crowd were caught off guard to see him take the stage and continue to do what he had been doing on the floor, that kind of energy is what translated music that sounds almost undanceable into something everyone watching was moving to in the exact same way…dancing, without a doubt. This track off his RN Rhythm Variations LP is a perfect example.
Today I have a couple tracks that are so hot out the oven, both were released no less than 24 hours ago as of the writing of this post. Some two-step infused with solar energy, and plenty of earth-shaking bass to keep your subs content.
Charles Trees – The Dream – The Dream EP
My man Charles Trees‘ newest release is out today on Warp’s Bleep storefront, from Musique Large’s new Tour de Table series, it’s called The Dream, and it’s coming from a similar stylistic angle as his previous release on Moodgadget, Accepted Truth, with a bit more of a positive, care-free vibe, as abundantly evidenced by the EP’s titling choice. Considering his Fleetwood Mac edit as Mingus Rude, dreams appear to be a subject of musical interest to Charles. The track’s synths paint a fantastic picture, made slightly nostalgic and blissfully swagged out by the halfway mark with even more keys and an accent of funk. It calls on the sorts of memories and imaginings of those bygone ages, perhaps even before we were born, which we can only revisit in our dreams.
Blawan – Iddy – Fram/Iddy
Blawan is Hessle Audio‘s newest signing, whose new single, released today, has been generating buzz and “what track is this?”-questions since it hit speakers. There isn’t much info about this producer, from South Yorkshire, but tracks like this, low-rolling and moody, with an assault of wild and unpredictable metallic snare and tom hits to match the low-end sub assault, are more than enough to warrant more attention…let’s keep an eye on Blawan and Hessle for their A&R that carries a similar appeal to the likes of Hemlock and Hotflush, but with guys like Blawan– a colder, more technical style that keeps the label’s collective sound diverse, unique and original.
James Blake – Air & Lack Thereof – (single)
Here’s another hot one on a similar tip, by James Blake, another artist with some new hotness on Hessle. This track is bassically a classic before it’s newness has even faded, released last summer on the aforementioned Hemlock, I’ve heard it on some of my favorite dubstep mixes, it’s still absolutely mixable, and undeniably hype during the drops. The intro is lovably mixable, and the meat of the track is satisfyingly full of flavor, between sub movements that force your entire body up and down, not just your head, and chopped up bits of processed soul sampling…deeee-lish.
Keith Murray – The Rhyme (Slum Village Remix) – AKA Yancey
Finally, I figured I would finish things off with one of my absolute favorite hip hop tracks from out my vault of Dilla-produced material. It’s a Slum Village remix of Keith Murray, a killer track I always fall back on for its grittiness, matched only by a sense of self-assurance that leads listeners to understand the magnitude of hardship and tough sights that emcee’s like Murray have experienced. The translation of struggle and strife into a resounding statement of determination, calling on the sorts of life-lighting aspects found throughout the human experience– camaraderie and hope that keep dispair and squalor at bay, feelings we can all relate to at one point, regardless of whether we dig hip hop or not.
I’m writing to you all from Brooklyn, on Bedford Ave. sipping a skim latte sitting here being too cool for words with my friend Jakub. I’m here this week to come to a final decision regarding graduate school, which will invariably be happening for me in NYC, and to hang with friends out here who I haven’t seen in a few months.
Shigeto – There Is Always Hope – Semi Circle EP
One of these friends is my pal Zach, who records as Shigeto, and whose Semi Circle EP, his debut on Ghostly International, comes out today. It was my honor and privilege to participate in the creation of album artwork for this release, which tells a personal story of struggle and sacrifice, and looks at inspiration Zach derives from the hardships the Japanese side of his family had to endure while forced into the notorious internment camps during WWII, specifically the experience of his grandmother, May. I was given access to an unprecedented collection of original materials, documents, and photographs from Zach’s family, and the resulting artwork is my effort to provide a visual interpretation of the music. This track completely melted my face off when he first played it for me, I think it provides an excellent (re-)introduction to Shigeto listeners both new and old, in the sense that it gives a taste of things to come. Definitely keep your eyes and ears open for Shigeto as he continues to forge ahead with the past in one hand and the future in the other.
Ramadanman – Don’t Change For Me – Ramadanman EP
Ramadanman recently released a self-titled EP that took me by surprise. My perception of this playfully-named London native’s catalog was that it comprised a different area of dubstep altogether: the grimey, wonky side, certainly not a lovesteppy pseudo-jungle roller like this one. I find this track to be undeniably catchy, incorporating just enough of that Amen Brother jungle break to make you reminisce without crossing over and away from remaining a proper dubstep tune. The 90’s house-sounding vocals top things off beautifully, with notes and melodies that have been chopped and abstracted, sprinkled atop the track like sugar on a sundae.
Roof Light – Street Level – Street Level EP
Percussion Lab Radio is on my speakers every Monday from 9-11pm (EST), so when the show’s host, Praveen, offered me a half-hour slot on last night’s show, I was on cloud 9. Before I took over the 1’s and 2’s, he threw down this incredible track from Roof Light, it’s called Street Level, and I imagine it would appeal to much the same audience as those who like the above-posted track. I love the sound of cut-up pop and R&B vocal samples, maybe a little too much, but there is a lot of futuristic-sounding fun mixed in with the ephemera and candy-sweet pop and house tones.
Kuniyuki Takahashi – Ocean Waves (Minilogue Remix) – Koss
I played this track from Kuniyuki Takahashi in my set on PLR last night, it’s off his new EP Koss, which features a number of remixes and edits of his track Ocean Waves. It’s very cool to listen to different stylistic approaches being applied to the same idea of a track, the EP spans ambient, house and dub territory, without sounding like a compilation, instead sounding cohesive and appealing to listeners from more than just one circle on the dancefloor. I like the deep, cavernous effect that gets accentuated by the reverberating stabs in this track, it chugs along like a bullet train speeding through a tunnel carved out of a mountain.