Review : Various Artists - 5: Five Years of Hyperdub
PitchforkBeatportal.com user Yield Load thinks "dubstep is wicked music, but I didn't know how your suppose to dance to it." The grammar's not there, but the idea is: Dubstep-- the nocturnal, claustrophobic subgenera of British electronic music that emerged from garage and 2-step-- is descended from dance music but doesn't sound like it's made for dancing. The tempos are slow, the mood is usually threatening, lonely, or both. If there's any movement I can imagine going comfortably with dubstep, it's what Three 6 Mafia's DJ Paul rapped about on "Side 2 Side", and the standard step at indie-rock shows worldwide: "I'm in the club posted up, got my arms folded... twistin' my body from side to side."
Of all the videos of dubstep dancing I clicked through online, two stick out in my mind. One is by an overweight teenager in what is likely his parents' living room, a decorative ship's lifesaver on the wall between what appear to be illustrations of the seaside, a large desktop computer at one end of the room, an open door leading to a yard on the other. A track by the producer Skream comes on, and he starts to move his fists up and down like a child banging steadily on a table, taking very deliberate steps across a carpet. That's it. The other is of two men, one black and one white, dressed in suits, dancing in some kind of white, computer-generated void, as the names of their dance steps flash across the bottom of the screen. My favorite is called "Lost in the woods (with bewildered stare)". I don't know if the comedy was intentional. Either way, it's a sign that dubstep has reached a particular position cultural importance: hundreds of thousands of people are watching a suburban kid dance to it on YouTube....full text
BbcThe Hyperdub label, home to various ingeniously mutant strains of dubstep and reweldings of genres past, is at once contemporary, futuristic and engaged in a subtle form of nostalgia. Founded by Steve Goodman, aka Kode9, its releases, as showcased on this two-CD compilation, allude to a range of styles, from dancehall to disco. However, there is a recurrent sense of subdued anxiety, taking its cue from the sombre precedent of Massive Attack, an implied inkling that dance music is in the midst of a long, dusky twilight following the daylight, Day-Glo years of funk and rave.
Burial has best intimated this vague but strong sense of wistful foreboding, no better than on Distant Lights, featured here, with its nautical blasts, jet black, looming bass and dragging, reluctant, rhythmic shuffle. Others are more playful in refracting the past. Flying Lotus's Disco Balls is a Cubist-like recollection of the squiggly synth-funk of decades past, while Samiyam's Return simulates the feel of old club 12-inches of the 80s, faded with age, their grooves bled white. King Midas Sound's Meltdown is lover's reggae put through a uniquely 21st century filter; LV's Turn Away is a convergence of digi-dub, bassline house and dubstep; and Darkstar's Need You, heavily Vocoder-ised, is like old-school funksters Zapp perceived in a hall of frosted mirrors.
Other formidable artists and latter-day electronic auteurs featured include The Bug, whose Money Honey Remix (featuring Warrior Queen) is a glossy, sleek and mobile upgrade of the dancehall stylings for which he's best known. Joker's Digidesign is like compressed shafts of coloured laser beam forcing their way through a single aperture, while Zomby's Tarantula is a throwback to Cabaret Voltaire. Last word, however, should go to Kode9 himself, who delivers a remix (actually, a reworking) of The Specials' Ghost Town – their elegiac, recession-hit lament is updated with a cinema-vérité of wailing sirens, lingering volleys of dub and a grim, deadpan vocal recital from SpaceApe: “All the clubs are being closed down . . .”...full text
RollingstoneDubstep is 21st-century head music adapted for the body, cross-wiring the sub-bass psychedelia of dub reggae with the restlessness of jungle and garage. The Hyperdub label reps the genre's experimental side, and this two-CD anthology, split between signature and unreleased material, is a perfect primer. Melancholic visionary Burial and the eclectic label chief Kode9 are the "stars," but acts like Darkstar, whose sad-robot bounce "Need You" sounds like Daft Punk outside an ex's window at 4 a.m., wait in the wings. Tracks like Joker's "Digidesign" posit a novel experience: the meditative party jam....full text
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