it happens for a reason

staying up late is easy.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006



so it seems that i'm getting into dubstep. or, i'm trying to. the words written about dubstep are just too enticing to resist- gutterbreakz, automatic for the people, grievous angel, k-punk, and the dissensus dubstep crew make it all sound too tempting. and then blackdown comes with the Burial interview, and that's it, i've finally cracked and am on boomkat with my credit card out before i really know what i'm doing.
so, the end result is that i'm now the proud owner of kode 9's mix on Tempa (it was difficult choosing between this and the Benga CD after nick gutta's stunning rhapsody to the latter, but in the end the prospect of all those new skream dubs on the kode 9 cut clinched it...).

i've never really 'got' dubstep before. the closest i came was last summer, driving around in melting heat, with a youngsta rinse tape banging out as loud as i could manage. getting swamped by the bass in that little metal box kind of made the music make sense. but i could never really get that feeling of excitement back- the initial shock and joy of the dense, shuddering bass was a one time only thing.

or so i thought, until now, until the kode 9 mix. but it's actually the bass which grabs me least about this mix. i find all those sub frequencies difficult to grasp on to- i want them to be there, obviously, but i want much more. i've never been much a bass junkie- bass is more a backdrop to me, i guess. not the main event. i think this is why i find much dubstep alienating.

i don't know if kode 9's mix marks a big step forward in terms of the dubstep scene's sound, or if this kind of stuff has always been around and i just having been paying proper attention, but there is certainly much more than bass going on here. as on 'request line', many tracks foreground melodic drama that all sounds so spacious and lush. and the beats aren't the draggy halfstep lurches that i remember from previous attempts to check dubstep out, but flick between lovely dextrous pitter-patters and hyped up stabs that i could really see crowds dancing to, rather than just nodding heads. the deathly dark paranoid edge of much dubstep also seems to be toned down here- there's even a sensousness, a straight pleasure-centric easy liquidity to some of these tracks. people on dissensus have been chatting about the 'spirituality' of the contemporary dubstep sound, and now- finally- i can see where they're coming from.

sorry i was so late!

the one thing that i'm not too sure about here, though, is the MC:- Spaceape. much of dubstep is a subliminal, quasi-ambient sound, as are Spaceape's half-whispers. so it fits well i guess. but i'd like to hear the MC give an up front structure and rhythmic foundation to these tracks. just about all my favourite moments in grime are those bits where a really spacey, almost beatless track is playing, and then an MC comes on and makes his (or her) words the heart beat of the song, with the track weaving around them as atmospherics, as incidental music to the drama. it's those contrasts- between gentle, almost effete, music and MCing that never holds anything back- that can make grime the most exciting music on the planet. i think that's why i loved ruff sqwad so much when their productions were really swirley and light, but the MCing (then as now) were anything but.
so: Trim or Wiley for the next dubstep allstars mix, please!


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