Pugilist smashes it again on Kenzo’s Artikal. He’s going to be one to watch if he keeps this up. ‘Raindance’ drops dessicated, concrete block beats and such hugely compressed bass weight you feel like you’re levitating a few inches off the floor on a magic carpet of low frequencies. No idea how the kid does it? but it’s special!
‘Murmur’ is the other standout for me, with a quirky stagger and lolloping swing to the groove; more slimey, rolling, more organic and wastelandish.
This is more like it. If you’re going to slavishly emulate and/or reference an all out Dub aesthetic you may as well come correct and get heavy with the business, rather than faff around with all this tasteful, fussy, calibration and twee restraint. Here we have the convincing, unforgiving smack, thud and pummel of a running-it-red, booming rig at peak witching hour, absolutely wiping the floor with the tepid likes of aforementioned Karma and other lightweight wannabes. I mean it’s not hard to do, if you set your dial to it, so better cut it professional with thick and oily ganja fug, and not fuck around, knowhaddmean?
To be honest I think this is a raw nerve within the Dubstep ‘community’. This blog has more tumbleweeds rolling through it than an abandoned desert western film set most of the time, ya get me? so when I posted some knocked off, rambling thoughts about Digidub v Dubstep last year, I was more than a little surprised to have more reads/visitors in a few hours/days than I get in a couple of months!? Go figure. I should re-write that piece properly and flesh out my argument coherently (if and when I can be bothered) because I was clearly on to something?
One of those accidental finds where I was simply attracted by the name of the label; ‘Monsters of Doomcore’ (yeeeah!) and had to investigate…
Although when I looked up TPROE on Discogs and saw that he’s already supposedly released 25 albums(!?!) in the last 16 years I had to laugh. It’s surely impossible, for multiple reasons, to take any artist who makes that claim seriously (unless they’re maybe The Fall or the Melvins…and even then…ya get me?) That discussion aside (and unfairly perhaps? having little or no interest in exploring his back-catalogue as a result) there are definitely a couple of stand out warehouse-sized crowd smashers here.
I don’t really want to know or speculate what “Densely Packed Hitlers” is about? (especially with the label press-release touting over-population and that a “great culling is coming”…) however, the production does have expertly crafted, massive, crushing low end, clearly built to level huge space arenas in a cold rush vibe.
Hench tunes always make me feel tired and old (and I mean that in a good way). I find it strangely reassuring that there are young men out there wasting their youth on this thoroughly unpleasant, bleak sonic battering ramage. It takes a certain mettle of character to stay unwavering on this particular path and there’s scant reward at the end of the day, let’s face it. Certainly in technicality it’s far superior to the idolised non-entities of “craft” (the Jeff Mills, the Hawtins, and any other cretin variation thereof). So I find and hear hope in it.
‘Death Dealer’ is ultra tech, crisp, choppy stop-start, gnarled wobble business. Functional to the point of pitiless and everything tight and right in the mix. ‘Vortex’ is little more than an angry, mechanistic loop running on and on, filtering nastier as the track progresses. Again expert tech construction. There’s some respite in a sticky, false Trance nirvana halfway before it boshes back into the machine hell.
A superb new EP of pitiless, dystopian bleakness from the blasted, no-man’s land specialists DNS.
Far from evoking an underwater glide as the titles suggests (it just sounds too jagged, too ploughed up and ruptured to evoke the cold liquidity of the atlantic trench? A grim hunt, sure, but) ‘Radar’ feels rooted in a cold and lifeless landscape: Sea or land metaphors aside, this is probably their finest black ops, deep insertion yet. A rusty metallic beat clanks hard through the sinister creep of mustard gas FX and drone, while the bass saws and belches are so smeared out by reverb they merely fizzle limply above the wasteland like desperate flares put up in panic by wired sentries – highly unnerving and original.
There are possibly some comparisons to the likes of ARtroniks et al. to be made here. There’s a definite sub-cadre (away from from the big name dubstep ‘dons’ and labels) expertly crafting away in grim defiance who mercifully don’t seem to give a shit about producing according to the whims of the times, who don’t want their sound to be decorative, but true. There’s no false musical consciousness, just a kind of stoical grunt work that hits harder – DNS are dug in deep to their territory in this respect. Just don’t try a frontal assault on their position!
Footwork/Juke producer and former DJ Rashad collaborator comes correct with this monster Grime/Bass banger.
I heard ‘Ghosts in the Machine’ on a recent Mumdance/Rinse FM show and while it’s a totally polished, bolt-action DJ tool (with an almost vintage Slimzee/Youngstar/P-Jam bounce) to rinse out at peak slot witching hour, ‘Where do you go at Night?’ is the heavyweight capo di tutti capi. A superb rumbling avalanche of doom bass, all paranoid reverse loops and cavernous claps, taking it into a different arena altogether. Guaranteed to be a huge tune over sound systems.
Big ups too for keeping business faultlessly short and sweet. No padding or bull.
It’s mildly interesting, if not a little disappointing that the dubstep massive at large has started leaning so heavily towards the structures and codes of digidub. I haven’t listened to any “proper” digidub in years (the Zion Trains, Irration Steppas et al. and to be honest I’ve got no desire or interest to) so I can’t say how (or if?) they in turn have taken anything from dubstep?
But then as long as the producers continue to puff away on the weed I suppose this is a given, especially as digidub (in recording and over the sound system) was always a surgical tweaker and booster of a potent THC buzz. I always considered it the more beery and lary cousin of original ‘Roots’ if you like. Something to wash down with copious red stripes, several fat ones and then get your skank on, preferably on one leg.
When I was a regular down at the Brixton Rec. Centre Aba-Shanti parties, (and in the days when the air was so heavy with ganja smoke you could almost cut it with a knife!) I always used to walk home in the small hours reeling from the bludgeoning I had received from essentially incredibly cheesy, repetitive and almost kindergarten-simple melodies played out sometimes on what seemed to be the most obvious cheap midi brass pre-sets: a thousand digital off-spawn imitations of Augustus Pablo’s innocent melodica lullabies.
The records perplexed and irritated me. Clearly they worked, the dance floor would go off, multiple rewinds, the full clash vibe etc. I’d hunt out the odd tune on vinyl here and there and low and behold, out of the sound system/party context, they sounded just awful! Plastic, tinny, unimaginative. A lot of it childishly simple techno 4/4 “steppers” (and a dedicated reggaehead mate of mine once told me he didn’t rate Irration Steppas because “they’re too techno!…got no roots”). So what was going on in the translation from vinyl to these speaker stacks? Was there some secret harboured by the digidub producers that only they knew about? enabling them to fine hone their tracks for maximum dance floor devastation? Were the irritating and easy to criticise characteristics a deliberate disciplinary rigour in themselves? only for the headstrong producer able enough to hold the line in the studio? I never worked it out myself.
For sure I hear a lot of this probing and affiliating going on in current dubstep now (and it has to be said the likes of Coki were always flirting with that borderline irritating silliness back in the day). Deep Medi, Mala & Co. can obviously be singled out as overt collaborators in this area (see their Weekender party last November in Bristol with Jah Shaka and Channel One) and where they go others will inevitably always follow…. Releases are now touted as “steppers” as a (surely not new?) style itself, but what I don’t get is tunes labelled as ‘old school’ if they get dark and supposedly ‘dungeon’? as on Compa‘s latest 12″ particularly the tune “Noctule” (see the Fatkidonfire.com review). To be honest I had no idea there were days when ‘dungeon’ was considered an aesthetic in its own right, but then what do I know? It was/is surely more interesting than a shift to digidub formulas?
Likewise Sleeper‘s latest release is an almost wholly digidub affair and an almost complete abandonment of his earlier filtered sci-fi vibes, although much, much heavier and more confident and skillful than Compa in my opinion. And then who can forget Jack Sparrow‘s unapologetic populist smasher “Hold and Pull” last year? (also no coincidence on Deep Medi). I have to concede, if that tune doesn’t have you spraying your can of ‘stripe all over the place in sheer abandon there’s no hope for you!