Monday, June 28, 2010

Grimy, Filthy Dubstep

Picture completely unrelated.

If you're not already familiar with dubstep, you're missing out. A genre characterized by nasty basslines, crunchy synths, and neck-breaking head nod grooves, there's not a style of music better for testing out that new subwoofer. Perhaps what makes this genre so exciting, however, are the many variants that exist under the "dubstep" umbrella—from the desolate, alleyway house take of Burial to the drugged-out, hip hop fusion slant of Flying Lotus to club banger-meets-slaughterhouse floor style of Joker. Although it's impossible to cover all the bases, I'll try to offer a cross-section of what's out there in the world of dubstep...

Emalkay: When I Look at You [alt]
I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for drops. There's something carnal about that synth swell that explodes into a clusterfuck of bass and melody. If that description fits you too, then you're in for a treat. Hang in there for about a minute, and then prepare for your speakers to turn inside out.

Joker: Psychedelic Runway [alt]
An example of dubstep with a more distinct groove to it, this is what a UK drug kingpin might roll around town listening to. A little trippy, a lot gangsta, and criminally grimy.

Plan B: She Said (16Bit Remix) [alt]
A sort of sister genre to dubstep is grime, a UK take on hip hop that incorporates dubstep-esque beats with spitfire English emceeing. Here, 16Bit remixes rapper Plan B's "She Said" and takes it to whole other level of intensity.

Hyetal: Pixel Rainbow Sequence [alt]
Incorporating 8-bit samples from the original Donkey Kong and other nostalgic video game favorites, Hyetal offers another dubstep track with a sick buildup and release within the first minute of play. More laid back and less in-your-face than some other dubstep offerings, "Pixel Rainbow Sequence" is nevertheless super nod-worthy.

Flying Lotus: Massage Situation [alt]
Another more laid back track, "Massage Situation" features a soulful female vocal sample over a groove that builds, deconstructs, and rebuilds again. Although considerably less lysergic than, say, FlyLo's 2010 Cosmogramma, this song is nothing to scoff at.

Burial: Archangel [alt]
A dubstep primer would simply be incomplete without a sampling from Burial. Don't expect this to be part of your next party playlist. William Bevan, the man behind Burial, creates haunting soundscapes that are probably the club bangers of the underworld. As a brief aside, I must say that Burial holds a special place in my heart for the sole reason that his music was played as roadies set up Radiohead's equipment before I saw them in 2008. Burial's music is now forever synonymous with anticipation and happiness as the musical interlude to what would become the best night of my life beginning at 8:47 PM when Thom, Jonny, Ed, Colin, and Phil took the stage at Verizon Amphitheater in Charlotte, NC.


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