Posts Tagged ‘dubstep’

Honorable Audibles as of late

August 20, 2011

SBTRKT – SBTRKT (Young Turks)

I slept on this one for a few months, but am glad I finally checked it out because masked beat-maker SBTRKT’s eponymous long player is an absolute grower, and features emotional vocals courtesy of collaborators Sampha, Roses Gabor, Jessie Ware, and Little Dragon. Even after first listen it’s obvious SBTRKT (real name Aaron Jones) spent a lot of time working with his talented vocalists, as the production is meticulous. It’s a soulful affair, working with elements of dubstep, drum and bass, garage, and bass music. Definitely one to check out before the summer’s through.

 
Araabmuzik – Electronic Dream (Duke Records)

I don’t even know how to classify this shit. Dirty trance electro hip-pop? All I can tell you is, Araabmuzik’s Electronic Dream offers up some of the most exciting tracks of the year. Does it border on cheesy at times? Hell yes, but that’s part of its charm, and the snare pops, dirty hip-hop drum programming, nods to AFX, and uber-crisp production completely make up for any weird trance-pop transgressions. For this listener, it’s one of the few albums that have really hit hard and kept its appeal after many listens. Worth checking out, no doubt!

 
For those of you in TORONTO, these two producers are playing a show together in November at The Hoxton. Check out the details of this not to be missed show right HERE! Cheers.

James Blake – James Blake

February 9, 2011

After a trio of rich and varied EP’s in 2010, which were all lumped under the banner of dubstep, the young and talented James Blake has released his debut full-length on a big major label. For those who had their hopes pinned on Blake producing the definitive instrumental dubstep masterpiece of the year, you may want to stop reading this right now, because what Blake has created instead is a soulful and strange collection of emotional almost-pop songs. Hints at dubstep and techno and darkness swirl along the edges of this album, but at its heart Blake’s debut attempts to go much further than just making you want to shake your booty in a dark club, it attempts to tap into your own emotions and make you reflect.

Simply put the album is an exercise in restraint, and a new avenue for Blake to explore emotions not just through rhythm but also through his own voice. We were given a taste of this late last fall as Blake’s cover of “Limit to your Love” began to pop up on blogs and music sites, and damn the kid could sing! And what sparse piano! And wow that bass wobble! Blake has truly reworked the song in his own style, while still sticking very close to Feist’s original, and the result is beautiful.

Every track on the album features Blake’s voice in the front of the mix, either clean or digitally enhanced by vocoder. Second track “Wilhelm’s Scream” is the song that will catch the listener first, as Blake uses a minimal beat and synth line to pull you in. He uses the word “falling” over and over in the track, and what’s interesting is the production creates the sensation of falling, as it slowly builds and layers itself into a wall of distortion and sensation. It’s a brilliant song that had me floored upon first listen.

The following tracks “I Never Learnt to Share” and “Lindesfarne I/II” are a bit more of a slow burn, yet once they seep into your consciousness, you’ll be craving the off-time bassline drops in “I Never Learnt to Share” and the guitar/vocal melody of “Lindesfarne II”. The opening section of “Lindesfarne I”, recalls Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” and builds into a gentle folk song. The stripped down piano-based tracks “Give me my Month” and “Why Don’t You Call Me” bring to mind both Coldplay and Bon Iver.

Who woulda thunk that James Blake would be compared to Bon Iver? And yet, overall the album totally works. Penultimate track “I Mind” finds Blake showing up his pals Mount Kimbie at their own game, and making it seem effortless. If there was one thing that was a bit disappointing about Mount Kimbie’s own debut full-length last year, was that it was simply more of the same, and arguably not as exciting as their earlier attempts at post-dubstep grandeur. Yet, one will never be able to say this about Blake who has been evolving and tweaking and growing exponentially with each release. And he’s only 22(!) Expect much more from this young producer, and check out this album, because it’s the year’s most interesting release to date.

Darkstar – North (Hyperdub)

November 19, 2010

For Juno Records

James Young and Aiden Whalley take a bold leap forward and backward with their debut album North, and help their label Hyperdub diversify in the process. Darkstar’s earlier singles like “Squeeze My Lime” and “Need You” saw the duo firmly entrenched in Kode 9 inspired dub-step and grime, so the music on North may take listeners by surprise upon first spin. Why you ask? Because the two-step beats and funky grime you’ve come to expect from Darkstar, have been replaced with cold synth lines and dark pop vocals courtesy of James Buttery.

Essentially what we have here is a synth-pop album in the style of Junior Boys, yet where Junior Boys have worn their formula ragged, hackneyed, and thin, Darkstar add new life in the genre. Early standout track “Deadness” illuminates this quite well, with smooth synth, gently processed vocals, and an amazing darkwave guitar-line coda that evokes plenty of emotion and rainy day pathos. The following track is the already revered “Aidy’s Girl is a Computer”, and it fits in snugly on the playlist even though it stands in stark contrast to the mood on the rest of the album.

“Under One Roof” brings the emotion right back, with woozy synth lines and Buttery’s voice stitched cleverly within the mix of synths and rhythm section. The overall feel of the album is one made for the cold rainy days of autumn — where it’s still not yet cold enough to snow, but starts to get dark in mid-afternoon, creating a bleak liminal state between seasons.

Penultimate track “Dear Heartbeat” is perhaps the most traditionally pop number on the album, with a twinkling piano backdrop and steady drumbeat, yet it still retains the cold autumn motif throughout. Closing track “When it’s Gone” sounds like a new, slowed down version of “Squeeze My Lime” and is a dreamy track that sort of drifts in and out and seems to hint at further transformations of Young and Whalley’s sound. Buttery closes the album singing: “I won’t forget you…” and with North, Darkstar have created a creeper of an album, one that will subtly seduce with each successive listen, and soon transform into one of the year’s most unforgettable albums for you.

Check it.

Mount Kimbie at The Drake Underground

October 2, 2010

30 September 2010

Dom Maker and Kai Campos, better known as Mount Kimbie, made their Toronto debut at the Drake Underground this Thursday night and did not disappoint. The young UK duo played a live set free of laptops, using a Native Instruments sampler, a Roland SP-555, and a KORG Kaoss pad, as well as, real guitar, synth and drums, they managed to create an interesting and varied live version of their clipped paced dubstep sound. Tracks like “Carbonated”, “Field” and “Ode to Bear” sounded great live, with tweaked samples, live instrumentation, additional beats, and deep bass. The opening seconds of “Maybes” sounded downright cavernous in the dark and packed Drake Underground, and the vocal samples swirled and panned around the room. The live version of “William” featured Dom singing the muted lyrics with his thick British accent, which I thought was a nice touch. Although their set was relatively short, and perhaps at times just a bit too low on the bpms for the ravenous crowd, it was great to see these guys play live in a small venue. Nice stuff.

Local hero mymanhenri got the show going, playing great tracks by all our faves including FlyLo, Floating Points, and Onra, who will also be making his Toronto debut at the Drake Underground on Oct 10th. Another one you should not miss. Check it.

Fab Collab from Burial & Four Tet

May 6, 2009

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Yes. I have it. Yes. I can’t stop listening to it. This two track EP is called “Moth/Wolf Cub” and it merges the musical stylings of leftfield producer Kieran Hebden with dubstep pundit Will Bevam. For electronic music nerds like myself, there really hasn’t been a more exciting release this year. Burial blasted my listening palette wide the fuck open two years ago when I first heard “Untrue”. The beats so simple, the vocals so strange, the bass so deeeep. That whole album makes me feel like I’m in the bathroom of a club, hiding in a stall, mashed on pills and hearing the throb of the music through the bathroom wall. Lucid, yet muddled. Digital yet organic. God I hate using adjectives to describe music.

The opening track “Moth” is a piece of pure 4/4 beauty. Reminiscent of warm Detroit minimalism and Boards of Canada, yet still sounding exactly how you’d imagine Burial and Four Tet would sound if slapped together. It has the feel of a classic techno track, one with warmth, soul and that steady 4/4 beat. The flipside is a bit more abstract, the beats more chaotic, but it reveals a tight meshing of both artists distinct styles and sounds.

I fucking love this.

“Moth” may be my fave track of the year so far. If you can find it, check it!!