Review : Various Artists - Blow Your Head Volume 1: Diplo Presents Dubstep
PitchforkAfter incubating and bubbling as a key strain of London bass culture for much of last decade, dubstep has recently exploded internationally, and done so in largely unique ways. Like most strains of electronic dance music, dubstep was created and cultivated by adventurous DJs and partygoers. Eventually those new electronic sounds tend to become one of two things: a battleground for arguments about purity and definitions, which inevitably stunts growth and inherently creates dead ends; or a once hands-on, dangerous, and visceral sound that intellectualizes itself into a considerably more dull when removed from its utilitarian dancefloor origins.
A funny thing happened to dubstep, however: So far it's avoided each of these traps, proving itself voracious and adaptable, and just as exciting as headphone music as it is room-shaking club music. It's also become an international force, one of the most universally agreed upon leftfield musics of our time, penetrating the fanbases and sounds of everything from hip-hop to house to indie to the avant-garde. In many ways it's a true reflection of globalism, and arguably a product of this century's downcast global mood. Dark, urban, and paranoid, dubstep is an appropriate soundtrack to an era in which the West is dominated by economic fallout, global warming, terrorism, and its encroaching marginalization.
There isn't another city in the world other than London that could have birthed dubstep, but the sound quickly became a global concern. Crafted in the UK by a young group of producers uninterested in jealously guarding their scene, it quickly spread-- not just as club nights, pirate radio, and white labels but through SoundClouds, message boards, and online mixes as well. It's now a central force in underground culture from Moscow to Los Angeles to Buenos Aires, and with the Internet as its key delivery device, all of these scenes and their players are having an ongoing dialogue with one another, making dubstep a versatile jumping-off point for any number of ideas. It's more of a means than an end, and in that sense it has mutated in unexpected and dynamic ways....full text
SpinDespite crossover moves by Snoop Dogg, Rihanna, M.I.A., and Britney Spears, British dubstep feels destined for U.S. obscurity; it's too jerky, too heavy, too slow. This comp -- producer/DJ Diplo's most recent anthropological package -- is a good introduction to the genre's acidity and mostly stays clear of any attempts to make it more fun and friendly. Though Blow Your Head leans hard on the Diplo cohort (Major Lazer, Rusko, Borgore), its colossus is James Blake, whose shower of warped arcade-game synths and butchered old gospel vocals is stunning -- heaven for believers and headaches for everyone else....full text
PoprenegadeProducer and DJ Diplo knows his stuff: he’s helped shape many of M.I.A.’s best songs. On this 16-track overview of dubstep – a bass-heavy subset of electronic music – he handpicks cuts by pals, labelmates, and influences. The best of them – Joker & Ginz’s skittering “Re-Up,” Major Lazer’s “Hold the Line” remix with Santigold, and Rusko’s “Cockney Thug,” which uses a recurring “fuck” as part of its hook — sound just as good at a home chill-out session as they do in the club. Diplo offers a few of his own tracks (a remixed “U Don’t Like Me” with Lil Jon is a zigzagging haunted-house of a cut), but Blow Your Head Volume 1 is mostly about schooling new listeners and giving devotees a solid compilation that shows off the genre’s versatility. Pad the walls, turn it up, and prepare for some major low-end rumble from this terrific ass-moving, head-bobbing overview....full text
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