Sonic Router 003 - A Dubstep Column For June
, June 4th, 2009 08:38
With sweat creeping down and pooling in the backs of the stagnating knees of yours truly its now an official truth that summer has arrived. With the rise in temperature the sun has brought short skirts, smiles and a whole new array of colours and synthesized textures to dubstep; the most prominent of which seem to be hovering around the cavern Mount Kimbie created with their debut release ‘Maybes’ all those months ago (Feb to be precise).
Mount Kimbie – 'Maybes (Hotflush)'
To be fair it’s no real surprise that the debut release from James Blake on Hemlock Recordings sounds of a similar ilk to Kimbie as he is in fact the third member of their live band and a regular yard stick for new productions to be tested on. His ‘Air and Lack Thereof’ track manages to combine the musicality of Kimbie tracks like ‘Taps’ with the bass pressure of Hemlock owner Untold. It’s a swooning mess that centres on the glitched up vocals and soothing call of woodwind instruments before he lets his explosive percussion fly.
Untold is again incredibly busy and ready for his second mention within the confines of this column. After unleashing the monstrously avant guarde/borderline nuts ‘Anaconda’ on Hessle Audio and remixing Ramadanman’s ‘Revenue’ for 2nd Drop Recordings he’s hitting out again with ‘Just For You’ his 2nd release on the Hotflush Two sub label. Rolling with a few of his trademarks, upfront percussion and bass that regiments itself so intrinsically into the fabric of the listening experience, it’s a little bit more of a roller than his previous output lending itself perfectly to a deep funky set. The remix on this 12” comes from Roska, one of funky’s leading pioneers, who cranks the congas up, slows the pace of the track a little and uses the female grunts to carve his melody.
Another repeat offender in this here column is the return of Wigflex. The Nottingham label - helmed by Spam Chop - is unleashing another 4 tracker from a few unsung heroes of the Midlands scene. Metaphi, The Hizatron, Taylor and complete newbie Eleven Tigers all create their own very distinct atmospheres with Metaphi and Taylor caressing the slower bump of the 140bpm spectrum whislt Hizatron and Eleven Tigers crank the pace, unleashing tracks that cross divides and quicker tempos with a truck load of panache and strikingly individual concepts.
Speaking of concepts, Infrasonics pioneer Spatial is endeavouring to bring back the split single with two tracks from Ike Release and the Mary Anne Hobbs endorsed Hot City on his label’s first full 12”. Splitting the whole idea of future garge in two the artists’ tangents and differences compliment each other perfectly with Ike Release’s tough 2 step drums sitting harmoniously with Hot City’s relentless rave anthemics.
This past month also saw the re-emergence of one of dubstep’s most important producers Burial. After his Hyperdub label boss Kode 9 previewed a couple of incredibly exclusive tracks live on Benji B’s BBC 1Xtra show a couple of months back this is the first thing loyal record buyers got to hear, a collaborative duo of tracks between Mr Bevan and Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet. The A-side ‘Moth’ combined the kind of shimmer Hebden has made his own across his four artist albums with the knowing crackle of Burial’s drum patterns and its flip side ‘Wolf Cub’ kind of did the same; fusing manic percussion and unrelenting melody with a gargae infused drum beat. Possibly not the smash most Burial fans had in their eyeline but a very intruiging collaboration that showed the musical depth of both parties involved.
Brackles has been plastered across many a smug mush of late after his genre wandering and faultlessly mixed sets at FWD>> and possibly one of the best episodes in the FACT magazine mix series were experienced by some of the scenes fanatics. After releasing a collaborative 12”, ‘Broken Harp’ with Shortstuff on Pollen he’s rearing his head later this month with a solo release on Planet Mu that fuses manic string melodics with an early 90s pop acapella to devastating effect on ‘LHC’. The B-side ‘Sutorita Faita’ shows a more cunning, menacing side to Brackles, all be it shadowed in the gloss of high pitched synths and hoover bass stylings.
With the mammoth Brainfeeder parties curated by LA’s Flying Lotus (who incidentally has a track on the impeccable 2 CD Tectonic Plates Vol 2 compilation*) set to pop off in both Barcelona and London it seems that June is definitely time to dust off those neglected wonky 12”s, slip into a pair of ankle socks, don your cargo shorts and expose your calves to the cool night air.
If at any point during this hedonistic rave season you are left feeling bemused or a little lost at sea within the context of modern day instrumental hip hop you could do a hell of a lot worse than kop the latest Beat Dimensions compilation, released across 2 slabs of vinyl by Dutch label Rush Hour. With tracks from Danny Breaks, Nosaj Thing, Mono/poly, Dimlite, Samiyam, Fulgeance and Dorian Concept it really does listen like a Who's Who of impossibly inventive beat producers and manages to keep the ear heavily engrossed throughout the meaty sinews across all 10 tracks.
Dimlite – 'Ravemonds Young Problems' (taken from Beat Dimesions Vol. 2)
And continuing in that slow-brewed, heavily mutated vein, Illum Sphere dropped what is a criminally overlooked 12” on Manchester’s Fat City label recently to a small rumble of knowing insider fanfare. Fusing their skitterish, un-quantized hump with the kind of off-kilter instrumental hip hop that quality producers of today favour, his take on the scene has more in common with the sluggish tapestry of Ras G but his varied style and approach (see the distorted swirl of ‘Hyper’ up against the low key afrobeat section on ‘Kaleidescope’) will undoubtedly ensure his product gains longevity.
The Strange Dreams Of Paul White also slipped itself out there this week with special edition versions including a hand stitched pillow case being snapped up quicker than they could possibly have been produced. 21 tracks deep it’s the work of an incredible producer who spends his days listening to prog rock and sifting through sound libraries researching limitless samples when Mr White should perhaps be working, on his day job. Varying his beats from intricate sample tapestry to that raunchy Dilla bump he’s quickly becoming a London version of Madlib, whose quick-fire productions always feel fleshed out with the obligatory bass pound, even if they do sound a little clumsy and or hastily whipped together. You can download the first track on the album for free and preview the whole album for the price of a few clicks here.
Most of these releases will be available physically as well as digitally. Check your local record shops or online stores for more details. We buy music and recommend you do too.
Information on all these artist and more can be found at DubstepForum.com.
*To win one of 3 copies of Tectonic Plates Vol 2 email firstname.lastname@example.org with the answer to the following question. Tectonic Recordings is run by whom?