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Dub(step)
July 11, 2008 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Dubstep is from the UK. It's typified by skittering, shuffled, syncopated rhythms with lots of triplets, dissonant and minor tonality, and most strikingly... (sub)bass. It uses a lot of effects people associate with dub. Crank your woofer and listen to the likes of Skream (who has done a pretty good introductory mix), Plastician, Digital Mystikz, and El-B.

Previously
posted by phrontist (68 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
Whoops, one of my links disappeared in editing... add Boxcutter to that list.
posted by phrontist at 5:45 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


No mention of Burial? "Untrue" is easily the best thing I've heard in years.
posted by davebush at 5:56 PM on July 11, 2008


Burial is great!
posted by phrontist at 5:58 PM on July 11, 2008


Spooky. At this very moment I'm listening to the lonelier, sparser, more downtempo side of dubstep: Burial.
posted by googly at 6:00 PM on July 11, 2008


the music is nice.
still.
I know it's not an original observation, but why the ridiculous taxonomy in electronic music? For me, the most exciting thing about it is the limitless potential: any single musician can arguably create any conceivable sound. Why in the name of Christ would you want to pigeon-hole your sound by labeling it? Isn't labeling an obsolescent practice from the bad old A&R days?
posted by es_de_bah at 6:00 PM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


(I didn't link before because his myspace profile is a bit... sparse. fair bit of stuff on the Hype Machine though. Basically the whole self-titled album is great.)
posted by phrontist at 6:01 PM on July 11, 2008


Even spookier...both those comments appeared in the time it took me to hunt down the YT link.
posted by googly at 6:02 PM on July 11, 2008


Why in the name of Christ would you want to pigeon-hole your sound by labeling it? Isn't labeling an obsolescent practice from the bad old A&R days?

Usually, I'd totally agree but many of the people in this "genre" are from the same part of the world, know one another, and play at the same clubs. So it's sort of a mutual-influence thing.
posted by phrontist at 6:02 PM on July 11, 2008


Pretty nice Skull Disco mix here.
posted by subtle-t at 6:02 PM on July 11, 2008


why the ridiculous taxonomy in electronic music?

The rampant taxonomizing can get a bit ridiculous at times. But it does serve the purpose of distinguishing between legitimately different types of music. Classifying ambient, trance, and dubstep simply as "electronic music" is, in many ways, as much an oversimplification as classifying rock, metal, and blues as "guitar music."
posted by googly at 6:08 PM on July 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


es_de_bah: why is there this ridiculous "band" concept in rock music? For me, the most exciting thing about it is the limitless potential: any musician could concievably hook up with any other. Why in the name of Christ would you want to limited your sound by hooking up with only 2 or 3 people? Isn't the whole idea of bands just an obsolescent practice left over from the bad old days of pre-multitrack recording?
posted by dydecker at 6:13 PM on July 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


Some great mixes for those who are still thirsty:
Kode9 - Sonar Mix
Burial's debut album preview, mixed by Kode9
SPL - Hollowpoint Podcast #2 (dark shit)
2562 - Electronic Explorations set (dubstep/techno convergence)
posted by moift at 6:14 PM on July 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


The dubstep classification is also there to say that you can't listen to this music at home because your subwoofers aren't powerful and deep enough.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:16 PM on July 11, 2008


Oops, fixed the link to the Burial mix. And it's actually Hollowpoint Podcast #1 linked there.
posted by moift at 6:25 PM on July 11, 2008


The dubstep classification is also there to say that you can't listen to this music at home because your subwoofers aren't powerful and deep enough.

Dude, whatever.

*climbs down ladder on side of subwoofer to go make a sandwhich*
posted by phrontist at 6:27 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


why the ridiculous taxonomy in electronic music?

People talk about "electronic music" as if it's just one genre of music (blame MTV and the glossy music rags for their ridiculous "electronica" marketing push in the 90s), but it's not. It's a bunch of very different genres of music, with unique origins and histories, which happen to have common instrumentation and happen to interbreed a lot. All of the major umbrellas of music have pretty elaborate taxonomies if you study them.

Consider:

rock > punk rock > California punk rock
rock > metal > stoner metal
rock > top 40 rock > boy bands
rock > indie pop > twee pop

electronic music > dub > dubstep
electronic music > drum & bass > intelligent drum & bass
electronic music > trance > psytrance
electronic music > house > microhouse
electronic music > ambient > lowercase

Is there really more taxonomy going on, or do you just understand less of it?

Besides, I'm going to get killed for this electronic music is still evolving and exploring new artistic avenues instead of just semi-ironically recycling its glory days the way rock has been doing for at least a decade.
posted by greenie2600 at 6:28 PM on July 11, 2008 [10 favorites]


The dubstep classification is also there to say that you can't listen to this music at home because your subwoofers aren't powerful and deep enough.

I've only ever listened to dubstep through tiny, tinny, cheap computer speakers and I thoroughly enjoy it. I am a little afraid to hear it through a proper system.
posted by lekvar at 6:34 PM on July 11, 2008


lekvar, can you even hear the bass on those speakers? I gave up trying to listen to dub and drum & bass on anything but a proper system. 80% of what's going on is happening at frequencies too low for crappy little speakers to reproduce.

You should definitely hear it in a club environment sometime. You can feel the bass resonating inside your chest. It makes for a visceral and qualitatively different experience.
posted by greenie2600 at 6:39 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


StickyCarpet writes "The dubstep classification is also there to say that you can't listen to this music at home because your subwoofers aren't powerful and deep enough."

lol

My roommate installs home multimedia systems for the rich and famous, and he brings his work home with him. Our neighbors owe us lots of favors for their noisy parties. So yeah, I have no problems playing Burial the way it was meant to be experienced. Sometimes the neighbors think it's an earthquake =]
posted by mullingitover at 6:41 PM on July 11, 2008


I can't hear the bass fully on a pair of Mackie SRM450's, a fairly decent set of speakers.

The first time I truly Heard The Bass was at a skream gig in Gent, Belgium. It's completely unlike anything else in music.
posted by phrontist at 6:41 PM on July 11, 2008


I agree with the idea that dubstep needs to played on a proper sound system to get the full impact. It is meant to be felt and to be immersed in just as much as it is to be heard. If you are near the LA area, I'd recommend coming to check out one of the many dubstep events put on by www.smogla.com
posted by d-programmers at 6:41 PM on July 11, 2008


There was recently a dubstep thread about barefiles and it was great, as is this one.
posted by plexi at 7:15 PM on July 11, 2008


Sorry, missed your link.
posted by plexi at 7:19 PM on July 11, 2008


Well, this discussion is perfectly useless!

Cheers to moift for actually suggesting some worthwhile artists. I've really been diggin' 2562 of late and I'm warming up to the recent Flying Lotus album as well.
posted by serial_consign at 7:19 PM on July 11, 2008


lekvar, can you even hear the bass on those speakers?
Nope, not really, but there's also a lot of interesting stuff going on in the high end.

You can feel the bass resonating inside your chest.
I really dislike that sensation. I'm also one of those wimps that wears earplugs at concerts. Don't get me wrong, someday I'll work up the wherewithal to go to a dubstep show (they happen all the time in SF but I've got a 5-year-old that needs to be tucked in and read a story at night) so that I can fully bask in the glory. But my point is that it can be enjoyed without the subwoofer.
posted by lekvar at 7:21 PM on July 11, 2008


So yeah, I have no problems playing Burial the way it was meant to be experienced

Well I do have 2000 watts of class-a subwoofer power, and sometimes get complaints from people who don't even live on my block. But if I crank dubstep it's mostly the sound of books falling off the shelves and radiator covers rattling.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:21 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


There have been some good ones named, but no one's mentioned the Skull Disco crew (Shackleton and Appleblim). Skull Disco's Soundboy Punishments compilation is the best dubstep album out to date, in my opinion. That thing sounds like an atomic BOMB coming out of a good system.

Disrupt's Foundation Bit is more a straight up digital dub album, but equally good.
posted by duder1200 at 7:26 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


also, Mary Anne Hobbs
posted by boo_radley at 7:27 PM on July 11, 2008


Resonating your body cavities does not harm your hearing, I suspect it might help lymph circulation.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:28 PM on July 11, 2008


The question is ... is Burial a singular phenomenon?
Is there anything/anybody else that makes music like Untrue?
posted by grabbingsand at 7:40 PM on July 11, 2008



There have been some good ones named, but no one's mentioned the Skull Disco crew (Shackleton and Appleblim).


uh, beg to differ.
posted by subtle-t at 7:51 PM on July 11, 2008



You can feel the bass resonating inside your chest.
I really dislike that sensation.


I went to Ladytron show and it was so great to feel nothing but immense analog synth bass crushing everyone in the audience. It was like heaven.
posted by plexi at 7:57 PM on July 11, 2008


Well, I like it with shitty speakers, so maybe I'll check it out in a club sometime. I haven't felt that chest throb in a while.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:21 PM on July 11, 2008


This is actually pretty cool. I gave Burial a listen to a while ago and dismissed it because I didn't really crank my woofer, but now that I'm trying that, it is definitely much more interesting.

Just to throw some science behind that, as we all know, our ears detect vibrations in the air between a certain frequency (At best, 20 - 20000 Hz) and interpret them as sound. What some people don't fully realize is that our sense of touch is actually tuned to a (lower) range of vibrations (this is around where the sub bass range sits). More specifically, our 'sense of touch' is actually a collection of at least four kinds of sensor spread over our body (and some things which aren't sensors at all, such as damaged nerves).

Now each of these touch sensors can detect different ranges of vibration, a good deal of which occurs below our hearing threshold. Thus, when an artist plays around at these low frequencies they can activate different combinations of our four touch sensors. Even though this touch sensors aren't too sensitive to differences across their respective ranges, a clever musician could still play our bodies like 4 note pianos (punk music did as much with less).

This would all amount to a very cool feeling, as it's unusual in day to day life to have this different sensors teased distinctly and musically. If we were so inclined, we could see Dubstep and truly bass oriented music as in fact pushing the realm of music past just hearing and integrating it across our touch sensors as well.

Hmmm... for a dive bar going, beer drinking Torontonian, are there any clubs I might experience some dubstep without feeling horribly out of place?
posted by Alex404 at 8:29 PM on July 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


You can feel the bass resonating inside your chest.
I really dislike that sensation. I'm also one of those wimps that wears earplugs at concerts.


I wear earplugs at coffee house shows.

Ok, that's an exaggeration, but i do wear earplugs at shows because that allows me to stand up front, close to the speakers where i can feel the bass resonate inside my chest and not have to suffer with tinnitus for a week afterwards.

If it's too loud to have a conversation, it's too loud NOT to have your hearing protected.
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 9:10 PM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Alex404, I'm not from Toronto, but Dubslingers has been throwing a weekly dubstep night at Thymeless for several years.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:30 PM on July 11, 2008


Resonating your body cavities does not harm your hearing, I suspect it might help lymph circulation.

And, possibly, constipation.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:16 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like dubstep well enough, but am I the only one in the world who feels like Burial is kind of overrated? I actually liked the ambient stuff on Untrue better than the actual dubstep tracks.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:43 PM on July 11, 2008


I already said what I would have said here in that previous thread, other than to add some tracks from the more ruffneck dancefloor side of things:

Babylon System & Noah D - Examination of Time
Rusko - Hammer Time
Cease - Upper Left Side
Caspa - Where's My Money
6blocc - Legalize It

If you're more into that 2steppy Burial style, the track of the summer would have to be TRG - Broken Heart (Martyn rmx). Just gorgeous.
posted by First Post at 10:47 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I came across Skream via a previous metafilter post and grabbed the essential mix linked above. Listening to it a few times on my computer I thought, "wow... this is really great." I had it on my ipod when running and just really couldn't get enough of it.

Then one day I plugged my ipod into my friends car stereo. It's a loud system. At 59:52 of the essential mix I had an experience like no other. This was not the same track I had been listening to on my computer or ipod. It had completely morphed into a bone crushing vibration machine. My friend and I looked at each other with both a look of amazement and awe.

Then a few weeks ago I went to a dubstep party featuring Excision among others. The sound system was pretty rad from what I could tell. Holy fucking shit was that ever an experience.

So ya, I kinda like the stuff.
posted by futureproof at 11:24 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've only ever listened to dubstep through tiny, tinny, cheap computer speakers and I thoroughly enjoy it. I am a little afraid to hear it through a proper system.

If you (the general "you" - as in you, the reader reading this sentence) are in SF or Bay Area and you want to hear breakcore and dubstep-like stuff on a proper system (as well as lots of other kinds of electronic/experimental music) there is contact information in my profile. If a full blown dance party is too intimidating for you, we (the collective "we") also do a weekly netcast radio show on Sunday nights starting around 8, which is a good time to visit and be social and listen to some music. BYOB.

I also have a box of disposable earplugs. But if I have guests I'll do my best to tune the rig so you won't even need them. A tuning a sound rig is like baking a nice cake. The bass is the cake, a foundation for the icing that is the treble, and the filling and accents that are the mids. If it hurts it's being done wrong.

Also, if you write or play new techno, breakcore, hardcore, glitch, free techno, noise, acid and/or otherwise think you have the chops to innovate and not replicate - you really should message me and come plug in some gear. This goes for visiting artists, too.
posted by loquacious at 11:28 PM on July 11, 2008


Also, for the NY Mefites, Kode 9 will be playing at Club Love next Friday (18th of July)... amazing soundsystem, great club; it's going to be an insane night with one of the most innovative DJ's/producers in electronic music atm. You can get the details on JoeNice's (Dubwar resident) Myspace...
posted by Spacelegoman at 12:35 AM on July 12, 2008


Gotta second everthing duder1200 said.

Disrupt - Foundation Bit is pure class. I keep coming back to that one. If you don't know, it's kind of like if King Tubby did his work with a Game Boy. If that's not awesome enough on principle alone to get you to pick up the album, lucky for you he releases on Jahtari, a net label that makes everything available free. You may have to dig through some EPs, and the quality is a little off vs the mastering on that Boomkat link, but you can get more than a taste poking around on that site. I haven't been terrible impressed with the rest of their roster but Disrupt is doing big tings.

There's a good live set of his on Spannered too.

"Blood On My Hands" off the Soundboy Punishment album by Shackleton has my all time favorite bassline, and is easily my favorite song about 9/11 since Scott Walker's Elvis allegory. Unfortunately I can't find any mixes with this track played early at the moment, and the youtube compression slaughters the drop.

If anyone's feelin' the wobblers in First Post's links, check out a Dutty Dubs promo mix.
posted by moift at 12:36 AM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Boxcutter FTW.
posted by roygbv at 1:27 AM on July 12, 2008


2563 - Aerial
Deepchord presents Echospace - The Coldest Season

Both extremely good intros to the genre.
posted by zemblamatic at 2:15 AM on July 12, 2008


I like that Boxcutter's profile pic on MySpace shows his refelection in a Watkins Copycat. Kind of surprising too, as I'd assumed these folk did everything on their computers.

My favourite dubstep track will always be Sign o' the Dub by Kode9 & Daddi Gee. The club I used to play dancehall, grime and dubstep records at did a little mini tour with them in 2005, and hearing that live on a hefty system was just fucking sublime (even at the disastrous date in Dundee where so few folk turned up that Kode9 played rave-style samples of rapturous applause after each track to make up for the complete absence of punters!).

As for dubstep in general, I can't really muster the energy to properly explore the sound - the best of it sounds like what drum & bass should/could've been post-ragga, but so much of it sounds like what drum & bass actually is/was, which is to say absolutely tedious. I mean, whatever Boxcutter track it is that's streaming at me from another tab just now has a fucking jazz flute sample on it.
posted by jack_mo at 2:52 AM on July 12, 2008


Also, I really wish folk had adopted the hyper-pretentious term invented for this kind of music, back before everyone had settled on grime, and terms like sublow and eskibeat were still seen on flyers: Tilbury Digital. Terrible, I know.
posted by jack_mo at 2:59 AM on July 12, 2008


The mention of ragga reminds me, after much time there is a Ragga Twins collection out now.

So if you are interested in where dubstep came from or just want to relive some good good times...
posted by fallingbadgers at 3:09 AM on July 12, 2008


This would all amount to a very cool feeling, as it's unusual in day to day life to have this different sensors teased distinctly and musically. If we were so inclined, we could see Dubstep and truly bass oriented music as in fact pushing the realm of music past just hearing and integrating it across our touch sensors as well.


And, the fact that it requires a special environment that can't be downloaded gives the artist back some control, and maybe opens the door for political and social power, like back in the Jamaican soundsystem days.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:20 AM on July 12, 2008


Do people dance to dubstep? It doesn't strike me as especially dance-able, so what do you all do when you are at a club listening to it?
posted by wigglin at 3:32 AM on July 12, 2008


I find it very danceable... every time I've been out to a Dubstep night the crowd was getting down! The typical beats-per-minute of a track is 135-145 which is pretty fast; even though the halfstep elements (especially the snares) might seem to slow to dance to, the bassline (the "wobble" wub-wub sound) and the hihats are at full tempo.
posted by Spacelegoman at 6:01 AM on July 12, 2008


Yeah, it's totally dance-able, and, for the reasons Spacelogoman says, it's only when you dance to it that you realise how truly speedy some songs are.

fallingbadgers writes 'The mention of ragga reminds me, after much time there is a Ragga Twins collection out now.

Ooh, I'd forgotten that was coming out - a trip to the record shop this afternoon is in order, I think. (Which reminds me of something else that irks me about dubstep - one-sided 10"s that cost eight quid.)
posted by jack_mo at 6:18 AM on July 12, 2008


it's only when you dance to it that you realise how truly speedy some songs are.


I've heard it said that this is one of the best things about dubstep in a club environment: the people who are just listening don't feel like wallflowers by not dancing to what is specifically dance music, and the dancers have plenty to work with if they care too.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:43 AM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Great! An opportunity to say your favourite electronic music sucks! And with feeling.

You see, I like the bass. I grew up with bass. I come from bass. So when I was presented with the concept of a sub bass oriented sound it should have been music to my ears. However, I have listened to hours of dubstep, at home and in clubs and parties and I have yet to hear any track that I wanted to revisit. Bassline is similarly bereft of interest for me, but at least the tracks are only a few minutes long!

There simply is no funk to any of it.

Also, it is not DJ mixed. They take the sex out of dancehall and all that is left is the macho posturing.

And another thing, it is ketamine music. It should be called ketamine dub. I defy anyone to be funky whilst they are on horse tranquilisers. Not that they would care, or indeed remember anything about the experience.

Incidentally, I think Leeds has a good claim on being the original dubstep propigator. Iration Steppas (amongst others) have been making dub 'in a year 3000 stylee' for about the past 20 years! Indeed I have their first release, entitled 'Scud Missile' which debuted in 1992 on wax.

Prior to that bass and beeps (LFO) actually attained some chart success going overground after gestating their bass heavy sound for a couple of years.

So, in summation. GET OFF MY LAWN WITH YOUR UN-FUNKY DREARY DIRGE MUSIC

Damn kids. Back in my day mumble mumble bass-lines were bass-lines mumble..

Please feel free to introduce me to any tunes that will disuade me of this position, I live to be educated!
posted by asok at 8:07 AM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just discovered that my nephew is also doing this newfangled "dub step" thing.

Dang kids are on my lawn, dancing. I approve. They can stay.
posted by grubby at 8:45 AM on July 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wonder how this stuff would play on Audiosurf... hmm. Even if my speakers can't handle the bass, the game should be able to.

Any high-quality MP3 sources?
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:04 AM on July 12, 2008


Great post. kode9 recently had a nice set and interview up on WFMU.
posted by everichon at 9:41 AM on July 12, 2008


Burial - Archangel (8-Bit Boy remix)
(link to zshare where you can download or stream)

This remix is what I would call the definitive dubstep track; it's the one the blog DJs use. From there evolved something that gets labeled bassline house.
posted by Leonard at 11:18 AM on July 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


Damn, Leonard, that's sweet.
posted by everichon at 11:31 AM on July 12, 2008


Not a single mention of Distance?
posted by basicchannel at 11:49 AM on July 12, 2008


Also Burial and Skull Disco are fan-fucking-tastic. The hype surrounding Burial is pretty funny.
posted by basicchannel at 11:52 AM on July 12, 2008


dubstep.fm streams Dubstep 24/7.
posted by basicchannel at 12:05 PM on July 12, 2008


Check out Anti-serum in San Fran for some next-level dubstep... really bringing out the glitchy/idm flavor into the world of wobble. Loved his show here in Austin not too long ago.

The scene here is pretty vibrant. In fact, tonight Hatcha and Roguestar will be here, at 710.
And every wednesday night, the Herd is at Plush.
posted by Espoo2 at 12:20 PM on July 12, 2008


Yeah, SF is, apparently, a pretty good scene. My friends from up in the Bay just got their Dubstep track played on Gilles Peterson's show (track 4).
posted by basicchannel at 12:39 PM on July 12, 2008


Something for the dubstep academics: A Ballardian Burial, a little essay on the (supposed and actual) influence of JG Ballard's writing on the dubstep sound.
posted by jack_mo at 6:11 AM on July 13, 2008


Hey I heard some tribal-flavoured stuff on that dubstep.fm that reminded me that I actually sort of like tribal music. Anyone have any artist recommendations for more tribal dubstep stuff? I'm going to assume it was actually a variety dubstep I was listening to since that's the name of the station but really it just sounded like bass-heavy tribal to my undiscriminating ears.
posted by juv3nal at 4:38 PM on July 14, 2008


OK. Here is some new music, often bass heavy, that has the funk and a sense of humour!
Santagold vs. Diplo mixtape.

<>
posted by asok at 10:20 AM on August 5, 2008


Appleblim's new mix is exciting the young people as well.
'deep, intelligent, progressive and meaningful', aledgedly.
posted by asok at 10:46 AM on August 6, 2008


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