Prior to moving away to Leeds- dubstep appeared to be a fairly niche genre-and at first I was excited that other people seemed to be ‘into’ it. However it quickly became clear that this bandwagon had been well and truly boarded- and from my point of view hijacked.
The following exchange quickly became tired
Me (expectant) : so, what do you listen to?
Fellow Student (generic) : oh, dubstep mainly.
Sadly it seemed that dubstep had become the preserve of morons demanding ‘more wobble’ -And of course with demand came supply to the extent of saturation few student clubnights would pass without a bit of Rusko or the equally painful ‘Eastern Jam’ by Chase and Status (though I do have a soft spot for their collab with Kano..). Essentially these artist are to dubstep what Pendulum is to drum and Bass – utter tripe.
If you’ve been a regular reader of my posts so far you’re probably beginning to notice the following pattern;
1) Rowan notes problematic genre
2) Trashes main exports of said genre
3) Hails saving graces of genre.
Which brings me to my third section of my three point plan to genre enlightenment in this case the forward thinking (note: not pretentious) label Hyperdub.
The label itself is owned by an artist known as Kode9, who in my opinion is one of the most interesting and consistent producers of this decade. Of particular interest is his album ‘Memories Of The Future‘ featuring the vocal talents of a man known only as ‘The Spaceape’ who provides dub poetry a la Linton Kwesi Johnson.
Kode9 manages to combine what I consider the best elements of dubstep; bass, interesting beats and a ‘dark’ atmosphere (along the lines of Burial, also on the Hyperdub Label) – all done with a hefty (paradox?) dose of minimalism, and not a ‘wobble’ in sight!
I also enjoy love that traditional dub and reggae influences can be heard alongside the usual mix of 2-step and jungle. One of the problems I find with the latter two influences is that of melody in garage based music melodies tend to be fairly predictable and ultimately boring. This it not the case with Kode9 whose builds up atmospheric, layered melodies often in a fairly atonal fashion providing an interesting, dense and haunting texture- though still surprisingly catchy.
Also on the Hyperdub label is Zomby who is one of those artists who as soon as you hear them you will either love or hate them- i of course fall into the former camp. The blend of beats swung to the point of sounded disjointed coupled with hypnotic 8-bit gameboy leads proved irresistable to my ears- this is music for the future featuring sounds from the past.
Unfortunately Zomby’s latest LP ‘Where Were You In ’92’ comes across as a pastiche of 90’s rave culture and is nowhere near as fresh sounding as his/hers/their earlier work.
Though I have heard little of his otherwork Joker‘s ‘Digidesign‘ is a perfect accompaniment to my previous recommendations. It is the same vein as the psychedelic hip-hop of Flying Lotus (as reported upon by our mighty leader, Phil) though much grimeier and synth driven than anything FlyLo has produced (and all the better for it IMHO). Anyway, check it out for yourselves!