Monday, 8 June 2009

Dubstep discovery

Ah, the much talked about techno/dubstep divide. For a long time My interest in dubstep was limited, and extended only as far as a vague recollection of Villalobos playing Skream's 'Midnight Request Line' and Ramadanman's 'Blimey,' and hearing his remix of Shackleton's 'Blood on my hands' on Radio Slaves Misch Masch CD. It was primarily through Scuba's mixes and a series of bleak, wintery releases on Shackleton and Appleblim's now defunkt Skull Disco label that I became a follower. However, Interviews with those responsible for some of the biggest crossovers on RA, Fact and the like reveal that despite their successes in extending the scene, this success is often accompanied by a sense of wariness. The much talked about techno/dubstep hybrid has the potential to become a pigeon hole and spawn potentially poor imitations of the sound. For those involved, variation is the key to their success- even those banded together under the umbrella of techno/dubstep have a wide range of sounds and influences that span from sparse industrial beats to early Basic Channel to drum and bass and jungle. The release of 'Tectonic Plates Vol 2' and Mordant Music's 'Picking O'er The Bones', and stumbling across sites like Sonic Router and Sitting Ovation has brought a wider variety of sounds to my ears. So who are the people doing interesting things, and where could the sound head in the future? As spring has sprung, where is the dubstep sound headed for the summer months? Here's a few thoughts as a starter.

Hot flush

Paul Rose aka Scuba is one of the key players in bringing dubstep to techno ears. Scuba's relocation to Berlin and his role in the Sub:stance nights at Berghain seems to have drawn his sound closer and closer to the techno mainstream. His own releases are increasingly blurring the boundaries with dubstep, and his DJ sets draw together dubstep, techno, funky and tech house. Download his podcast for a taster. Word has it that Scuba is working on the follow up to 'A mutual antipathy' to be released later this year. If his recent single 'Klinik/Hundreds and thousands' is anything to go by, it could be an album firmly straddling both camps; while Klinik combines dubstep swinging beats with sub aquatic synths, H&T is techno minimalism a la Berghain- is this the effect playing in the iconic venue has on producers of all genres? Scuba also has a habit of getting interesting remixers on board, as seen in the album remixes by Surgeon, Subtance, Dettmann and Martyn, while Scuba's 'Hard boiled' re-edit is a masterpiece of a rework.

Mount Kimbie
What do you call the music produced by Mount Kimbie? Is it dubstep? Electronica? Whatever it is it perfectly encapsulates the sound of summer, bringing warmth, colour and texture to the dubstep fray. RA called the release "a blueprint for a new way of doing 'step' music", pulling in a range of influences across the musical spectrum, while FACT labelled the producers ones to watch in 2009. On 'Maybes' released on Scuba's Hot Flush, the tracks combine 2 step Burial-esque beats and atmospherics with melancholic melodies and skittering percussion that leans heavily on Shackleton. I think this is one of the best releases of 2009, not bad for a first EP!

Daphne records
Millie and Andrea's first release on Daphne was aptly described on Boomkat as "the freshest, sickest twelve we've heard this year, a sort of mutant 2-Step/Techno/Wonky mashup", but who is behind the release? Rumoured artists are Martyn himself, Appleblim, someone from Skull Disco, 2652 or Headhunter. Daphne seems to be a sister label to Modern Love, and clues on Boomkat and point to MLZ and Andy Stott. Whoever it is, releases so far have taken Martyn's trademark grooves and combined them with dub techno and Maurizio and fit equally well in techno or dubstep sets. Look out for Millie and Andrea's new release out soon, or read about it on FACT.

Hessle Audio
Hessle Audio is perhaps one of the most interesting emerging labels, recently featured on RA, and responsible for the first releases by Pangaea, Untold and TRG. Well worth a listen are Pangaea's 'Router' and the Villalobos championed 'Blimey.' Releases have been charted by a diverse range of DJ's including Quarion, Agnes, James Ruskin and Brendon Moeller. Check out a Hessle Audio promo mix released to celebrate their Fabric room 3 takeover by Ben UFO over at Sonic Router to see what they're about.

Apple Pips

Appleblim's Apple Pips is another label with a slew of outstanding releases including cuts from T++, Ramadanman and Martyn. Releases are not focussed solely on dubstep, but explore the boundaries of the sound and potential directions of exploration and crossover. A particularly fertile ground has been experimentation with dub techno. Applepips 004 by T++ aka Torsten Profock moves from deep and rolling techno on the A side to a 140bpm take on the same sounds on the B side in a similar vein to his recent 'Space Break'. The most interesting aspect of the label is their choice of remixers, with Brendon Moeller and Sven Weisemann appearing on the label. Weisemann's remix of Ramadanman's Humber is one of my current favourites; a melodious and beautifully haunting track that could signal a new direction of exploration for dubstep.

Headhunter is a producer equally at home in a techno or dubstep environment. His releases have included remixes for Martin Buttrich and Brendon Moeller's Beat Pharmacy, as well as singles and an album for Tempa. I recently posted a link to a Headhunter set from Clash Magazine, and live sets are posted on his myspace page. His influences span Basic Channel, electronica, drum and bass, jungle and grime, and the outcome is a unique and varied take on dubstep that seems overtly electronic.

DFRNT is an Edinburgh producer and DJ who has developed an interesting sound that combines dubstep, electronica and detroit techno. He is the driving force behind the Sitting Ovation blog, which has great features and mixes as well as free tracks and is well worth a look. He has recently posted a preview mix of his album Metafiction, which sounds a perfect release for the summer. An archive of his mixes can also be found on his website, the latest one includes tracks by Markus Intalex, Scuba and Jason Fine.

1 comment:

  1. DUbstepDiscovery Channel ->