Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I feel the Earth move...

Well after the usual prolonged abscence from the blogging world i'm back and ready to rant, rave and ramble about my musical experiences of 2006. The charts supplied below from Softy and Carnage pretty much sum up my year in 4/4, so I thought rather than repeat what they have already stated i'd pay homage to the speaker stack shaking genre that is closest to my heart, dubstep. This year has seen the sound grow into new sounds and new audiences. The confused faces that once greetd any DJ attempting to drop these tunes has been replaced by multiple screams for rewinds! That might be over egging it slightly but it certainly seems that people are really starting to appreciate the sound, with lots of peeps now exclaiming how they've just 'got it'. Fair play to them I say, I love this sound and hope that it can continue to evolve and pick up more fans. The trendy press has been waxing lyrical about the sound and the column inches have been justly desrved, there have been some great raves and a lot of bloody great records released this year, with no sign of the quality letting up 2007. For me personally each new release from the Tectonic and DMZ labels have seemed like an event, which sees me rushing down to Rooted records on my bike to pick up a fresh slice of some truly inspiring bass heavy business! I guess it could be said that 2006 has been the year dubstep 'broke', or at the very least firmly established itself as a distinct genre (pigeonhole?).

So, what have I been listening to then? As you might expect it's hard to know where to start, so lets begin close to home and talk about the goings on of Bristol's DJ Pinch. First things first, it has to be said that 'Qawwali' is most defintley record of the year, and by that I mean it's the record that has recived the most plays full stop. Certainly round these parts at least anyway, I know my TAPE compadres will agree with me on that. Apparently it had been waiting in the wings for a couple of years, in Pinch's personal dubplate vault, but when it finally saw the light of day back at the start of the year it sounded soooo fresh it was ridiculous! I've only recently got round to playing the VIP mix on the flip as the A side is so damn fine. The follow up Punisher, is also rather good and well served by an excellent Skream remix. Both of these records came out on the eclectic electronic label, Planet Mu. Pinch's own label Tectonic has maintained a very high level of quality with a series of killer 10"s, which have been compiled into the Tectonic compilation, which I think is called something like Tectonic plates. Pick of the bunch has to be 'Bahl Fwd' by Skream. If you haven't heard the track, its got a really catchy little hook that is very hard to dislodge from your brain! Not forgetting Pinch's other venture, the promising Earwax imprint. With only two releases under its belt i've been left wanting more and certainly look forward to what is to come. The sound is different to that of Tectonic, the two releases from SNO and Clue Kid have suggested a more bouncy, sublow sound with a strong dubwise influence. In other words records that really get people moving on the dancefloor. Hats of then to you Mr Pinch.

Right who else is there to talk about? mmm.... Skull Disco methinks, the masters of gothic dubstep. The depictions of skeletons furiously beating drums on the sleeves pretty much sums up their sound. Its key players Shackleton and Appleblim have pushed a distinctly abstract sound, with a heavy emphasis on intense drums and cavernous bass sounds. Fair play to them for attracting the attention of certain techno jocks like Ricardo Villalobos, Damien Lazarus and the Hardwax axis of DJs. Next year will hopefully see Ricardo's remix of Shackleton see the light of day. I haven't heard it but apparently its suitably wonky! I can recommend any of the Skull Disco releases, in particular the track 'Hamas Rule' by Shackleton and 'Tomb' by Appleblim if my memeory serves me right. Also worth checking is Shackleton's recent release on the Hot Flush sub (aquatic) label, Scuba.

Any talk of dubstep in 2006 would be incomplete with out mentioning the mighty DMZ crew. Based around the Digital Mystikz themselves, that is Coki and Mala, and a man called Loefah, possibly the heaviest of all dubstep producers. They have been gaining praise for their now legendary parties and some sick 12"s. Every single release on the label has been brilliant, I cannot recomend this label enough. I would have thought that their output should be compiled into a CD comp soon, but really you want the 12"s, that are cut really nicely and hold some extra bassy magic within their grooves. After 'Qawwali' Mala's 'Left Leg Out' is another tune that I can't seem to get enough off, and one that sounds like a true stylistic developement. It has to be said that shaking your left leg like a maniac is about the best way to dance to the tune. When dropped at Subloaded a few months ago I got fully locked into a trancey groove, with legs flying everywhere! Tunes also worth checking are 'Anti War Dub' by the Mystikz and 'Rufage' by Loefah.

Kode 9's Hyperdub label has continued to impress, most notably with the Burial album which gained praise across the board. I think the general critical line was something about representing the dark claustraphobia of modern urban living, through the medium of glitchy beats. Basically if you haven't heard it do yourself a favour and get over to Boomkat or whatever and secure yourself a copy. Kode 9's own productions have all been noteworthy too, he even managed to coax a good vocal out of the previously rather annoying Spaceape in the form of the excellent 'Portal/Curious' 10".

2006 has also been the year that Bristol hero and friend of TAPE, the RLF finally dropped his debut album unded his Bass Cleff moniker. 'A Smile Is A Curve That Straightens Most Things' is a magnificent album that is succinctly the sum of all RLF's influences whilst still managing to sound super, super fresh. The physical sound of it is completely unique in dubstep, very crunchy and the beats are disorientatingly hyper at times. In one word, amazing! If your reading this Ralph we love you! Again you'll find this over at Boomkat if you are curious, which you hopefully are by now...

Right nearly finished, just pause for a quick breath, phew.... OK, what can we expect in the new year? A couple of new labels have sprung up this year that have caught my attention and look set to really kill it in 2007. Dub Police and Deep Midi have pushed a super heavy dubwise sound that has reconnected the genre back with its rootsical Jamaican history and also the old UK steppers sound of the early 1990s. Think trumpets, uptempo beats and of course lots of bass. One to watch in 2007 is Kromestar, i'm not to up on this producer but believe he/she has some link to the Mystikz, anyone care to inform me? Also Peverelist straight out of Bristol is set to release some amazing techno-esque beats on his own Punch Drunk label. I've heard the tunes, can't wait for the vinyl...

To those dubstep heads reading this I realise I haven't covered all bases. Most notably I probably should have talked about Road records, or Toasty boy or Southside (always a bit badly pressed, grrrr!) or even the mighty Tempa (Skream 'Dutch Flowers' ace!), but time constraints and running out of steam means that is all from me for 2006. Hopefully next year will see me take a giant leap and start blogging a bit more. In the meantime have a lovely winter holiday and if you have time check out my doodlebug mix (check the link to the right, if you haven't already) which contains some of the tracks i've been blathering on about. Just one final thing, big up Tom and Chris from Rooted Records for supplying me with all this lovely dubstep, Check their website at www.rootedrecords.co.uk for all your bass line needs. Seasons greetings and peace to all mankind!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice little summary man! good to see dubstep repped on the blog, all about cross-pollenation

Kromestar started as a grime producer releasing on J Sweet's 'Sweet Beatz' label under the moniker Ironsoul, but since seems to have become very popular with a number of central djs. and i think Deep Medi is something to do with DMZ, although im not sure if they have a particularly strong affiliation with him.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous porn said...

Kromestar started as a grime producer releasing on J Sweet's 'Sweet Beatz' label under the moniker Ironsoul, but since seems to have become very popular with a number of central djs. and i think Deep Medi is something to do with DMZ, although im not sure if they have a particularly strong affiliation with him.

9:39 PM  

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