"For a time, there were maybe 50 dubstep tracks in the whole world."
June 23, 2015 12:15 PM   Subscribe

 
Incredibly disappointed this link goes to Vice and not Clickhole
posted by hellojed at 12:50 PM on June 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


Drop the beat Francis!
posted by kmz at 12:51 PM on June 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


An oral history of dubstep? I'd like to think it would go a little something like this:

GRIZZLED, UNDERAPPRECIATED DUBSTEP PIONEER: Screech grind groaaaaaan screeeeeeech

BESPECTACLED MUSIC HISTORIAN: wubwubwubwubwub

CIGARETTE-SMOKING JOURNALIST: BWOMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

Thank you, I'll be here all night.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:13 PM on June 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


What industry insiders won't tell you is that dubstep was cooked up specifically for a Breaking Bad opener, and the rest was just gravy.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:30 PM on June 23, 2015


The most fascinating bit from here was marking the Caspa/Rusko Fabric mix as a turning point for the sound: that's the one that made dubstep go from DMZ stuff (which I will love forever... here's a track that James Blake covers in his live sets... it's also mentioned in this piece) into the WUBWUBWUB parodies y'all have already submitted above (here's a taster of those, with an added dash of cheesy trance).

sidebar: I'd totally write the Mary Anne Hobbs FPP, but there's a conflict of interest there. That woman changed my life for the better. One of the best DJs ever.
posted by raihan_ at 1:39 PM on June 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


Why yes, it has been too long since I've seen a link to the T-Wog$. I keep coming back to that as it actually is an excellent mix as well as being hilarious parody.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:43 PM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love how there's an entire history of variations in electronic music, but I have a hard time following it. Yeah, I've been to raves before, DJ's do their thing in different ways, but I've never really understood the appeal of "Oh yeah! My life changed when the wubwubwub scrizzzeeee sound was introduced and I was, like, one of the first people to ever dance to that shit!" Before that time, people only had wipwipwipwip sustaiinnnnnn thumpthump to listen to, and that was boring.
posted by Chuffy at 1:43 PM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Chuffy, I kind of feel that way when people talk about the British invasion or the Beatles.
posted by mikeh at 1:55 PM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


I came in late to dubstep (2007, listening to EXBC mixes all night while coding for my first real job out of college), but christ damn I love the older sound. This was a walk back, thanks for posting.
posted by isauteikisa at 2:07 PM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


buttery biscuit base
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:09 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


... And before that there were none. Ah, those were the days.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:10 PM on June 23, 2015


*dies a little inside*
posted by jonmc at 2:12 PM on June 23, 2015


here's a track that James Blake covers in his live sets...

Mefi is amazing. I've wondered what this song was for years since the first time i saw JB play it.
posted by emptythought at 2:21 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Kind of thinking the core of the article, which is about a pretty close-knit community in part of London that was dozens of people with an evolving sound (and not the widespread sound referred to in the article as 'brostep') is being lost in the comments here.

Even without the music as a reference, this is a pretty good oral history of a music scene that started from a pretty basic place and grew to the point where most of the originators are doing entirely different things.
posted by mikeh at 2:21 PM on June 23, 2015 [14 favorites]


but I've never really understood the appeal of "Oh yeah! My life changed when the wubwubwub scrizzzeeee sound was introduced and I was, like, one of the first people to ever dance to that shit!" Before that time, people only had wipwipwipwip sustaiinnnnnn thumpthump to listen to, and that was boring.

It's pretty similar to people who went to their first punk show, or heard grunge for the first time, or whatever. It's something that pretty much just happened to coincide with a coming of age time or big turning point in your life.

For me, i was like 12 or so and it was Discovery by Daft Punk. Total "you got peanut butter in my chocolate!" moment. I had grown up listening to my moms massive collection of soul/funk/r&b records and funky pop stuff like Prince's Controversy and Songs in the Key of Life. I had sort of started to like electronic music(and still really love 90s house that sounds way more minimal), but i was like "YOU CAN HAVE THE FUNK AND THE OONCE IN THE SAME PLACE?!?!!". Not that there hadn't been funky house tracks around, but they weren't like that. That was shit that would make your mom dance.

If it wasn't for that record, i have no idea if i would have started producing and DJing and made a lot of the friends i have, or gone on a lot of the adventures.

At least for me, that's the kind of thing it seems like people mean with that.
posted by emptythought at 2:31 PM on June 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


*dies a little inside*

I'm sorry this FPP hooked you up to the dubstep equivalent of the machine in A Clockwork Orange, that was at best inconsiderate.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:52 PM on June 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Kind of thinking the core of the article, which is about a pretty close-knit community in part of London that was dozens of people with an evolving sound (and not the widespread sound referred to in the article as 'brostep') is being lost in the comments here.

The thing is, as far as I can tell, a lot of what are thought of as genres in dance music were originally scenes - small groups of people, often in London (though not necessarily - see Trip Hop in Bristol), making music for each other. Actually, a lot of genres in other kinds of music started out that way, too. But Jungle, Drum and Bass, UK Garage, Grime, Dubstep and the innumerable other genres that have sprung up over the last twenty years can often be tracked down to a particular post code.

The article is fascinating. The music's not really my kind of thing, but I do admire the industry and energy of the people who do it.

(sigh Basically, I've turned into a dad coming into the living room and saying "What's this? It's got a good beat!")
posted by Grangousier at 2:58 PM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


(Haunted is an amazing record, though. I'm going to listen to more of this. Thanks!)
posted by Grangousier at 3:04 PM on June 23, 2015


This was mostly impenetrable but when I got to the part where they named both "dubstep" and "yardcore" on the same day I was all OH COME ON YARDCORE?
posted by GuyZero at 3:06 PM on June 23, 2015


if you want more "current" variations of the early dubstep sound...

EshOne out of New Mexico does cool things.
Some of the "new grime" guys take that sub-bass energy and add a dash of 2step/garage to it... Kahn & Neek are a couple of my favs.

The Bug's recent album on Ninja Tune is heavy. He's probably one of the guys who believes so wholeheartedly in the (literally) overwhelming nature of bass.

There are a lot of scenes in music where "you just had to be there," but I think for electronic music, dubstep might be the one most dependent on the speakers and actual rig you're experiencing the music on. The feeling of your teeth rattling, or an expert DJ making it so you feel the bass vibrate upwards through your body.

(An interesting rock-ist counterpoint to this is Dean Wareham's piece "Drop The Bass: A Case Against Subwoofers"... which, imo, is more about poorly-trained sound guys and a lack of a proper technical rider as opposed to the scourge of bass itself. Hah.)
posted by raihan_ at 3:08 PM on June 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, if you don't want any metal machine music, Mala's "Alicia" is a light breezy jazz-influenced number. Another one of my favorite tracks of all time.
posted by raihan_ at 3:10 PM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Out of curiosity, what are the equivalent young people tucked away in dark corners of London making these days? As a portly middle-aged man in a tie, I confess they're the kind of disreputable youth I should be avoiding. But their records are great.

(This is also excellent - as terrifying as it's groovy)
posted by Grangousier at 3:14 PM on June 23, 2015


Yeah I love old-school dubstep (and the holdouts) too. I didn't really get into the sound until '08/'09 which is to say right when it all blew the fuck up but I lived at the time in a very large shared housing (i.e. party) situation with a couple of DJs who were evangelizing the old along with the new.

My all time favorite from the early period.
If you kept up with this stuff in later years you're probably sick of this one but damn.
posted by atoxyl at 3:17 PM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Bug's recent album on Ninja Tune is heavy. He's probably one of the guys who believes so wholeheartedly in the (literally) overwhelming nature of bass.

Dude was in Godflesh and Techno Animal. Pretty sure he's involved wholeheartedly in overwhelming period
posted by Hoopo at 3:24 PM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Kahn & Neek are hilarious.

How we roll to Nandos
How we roll to Burger King
Man must be Dillusion-ist (also my favorite thing out of the 2013 Grime War)
posted by azarbayejani at 3:24 PM on June 23, 2015


The Bug's recent album on Ninja Tune is heavy. He's probably one of the guys who believes so wholeheartedly in the (literally) overwhelming nature of bass.

Dude was in Godflesh and Techno Animal. Pretty sure he's involved wholeheartedly in overwhelming period


Wait, what?

googles

Yeah, Kevin Martin is boss (I don't think he was in Godflesh but he does have multiple collaborations with Justin Broadrick). This track from Techno Animal featuring El P and Vast Aire is a motherfuckin jam, turn the bass way up on it.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:28 PM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't think there's anything interesting going on at the moment, certainly not in London. Of course, why would I know? My clubbing/rave/Glasto days are long past. But one of the big things for dubstep was pirate radio - as it was when reggae kicked off big-time, and rave, and jungle - but as far as I can tell pirate radio in London is pretty indistinguishable from the mainstream low-rent R&B or whatever is churned out from a thousand laptops these days. I don't listen often, but I do a bandscan every now and then to see what's cooking.
posted by Devonian at 3:29 PM on June 23, 2015


Dude was in Godflesh and Techno Animal.

He was in GOD, not Godflesh - makes a similar case but for a minute I was like what

(An interesting rock-ist counterpoint to this is Dean Wareham's piece "Drop The Bass: A Case Against Subwoofers"... which, imo, is more about poorly-trained sound guys and a lack of a proper technical rider as opposed to the scourge of bass itself. Hah.)

Sub off for most rock and acoustic music, on for hip hop and other electronic music. Duh. But the point about Beats is unfair - I'm wearing headphones right now (nothing super special, ATH-M50) that are cheaper than Beats while handling low bass (possibly deeper extension than Dre's offering if not as loud) and mids both plenty well. Beats just seem to be about a big peak around 100-200 Hz.
posted by atoxyl at 3:33 PM on June 23, 2015


He was in GOD, not Godflesh

Yeah ED has it up there, Techno Animal was a project with Justin Broadrick (Godflesh) and I got confused.
posted by Hoopo at 3:38 PM on June 23, 2015


I used to go to the bar next to The End. The sound level of that club was ridiculous. I was not at all surprised when they started having a dubstep night there, it was a match made in [EXTREME SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL] heaven.
posted by asok at 3:51 PM on June 23, 2015


(also on the topic of Kevin Martin, he curated a truly excellent set of compilations called Macro Dub Infection that fucked my head right up in the mid-90s. Back before you could just look stuff up on the internet, these compilations exposed me to stuff I never would have heard elsewhere. And unlike a lot of the ubiquitous electronic compilations from the 90s this stuff holds up quite well today. As I recall, the Luke Vibert track "Phora Ride" has an early, hearty dose of wub-wub bass in it in a non-dubstep context)
posted by Hoopo at 3:52 PM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Devonian - I mentioned London because there always seemed to be something ticking away under the surface that would emerge later on. But perhaps you're right. Perhaps it's dead. I blame Foxtons.
posted by Grangousier at 4:12 PM on June 23, 2015


Ugh I just posted another set of favorite tracks that I think deserve attention but then I hit the back button and MeFi thought I was trying to edit a comment or something? Okay, without the links, sorry:

Loefah - Goat Stare (classic classic)
Mala - Mountain Dread March (classic underrated, lil faster than regular dubstep or feels it)
Skream - Auto-Dub (classic underrated, you can tell I like 'em dark and minimal by now)

Loefah - Woman/Midnight (Loefah did a bunch of stuff back then that has remained on dubplate for years. These got a vinyl release last year as an edition of 300 which of course became a ridiculous collectors item that mostly digital DJs will actually be able to play because torrents exist. Uh, I have mixed feelings about "dubplate culture.")

Emalkay - When I look At You (an inflection point on the curve toward raver-friendly, arguably on the curve toward bro-ey but I still like it)
Nero - Guilt (the endpoint of raver-friendly but I still like it for completely different reasons than the stuff at the top)
Skream version of La Roux - In for the Kill (was this in the article? big turning point for mainstream and raver-friendly)
posted by atoxyl at 4:14 PM on June 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


One more story - the one time I saw Mala (in the U.S.) was at a fuckin' jazz club and the sound system wasn't remotely up to it :(((. He actually took requests for the last song and of course I shouted for Anti-War Dub but he played "Changes." A lot of people love that one but I find it a little underwhelming. He did play Alicia, though, which is a very rare record and which I do love even though I know it's really just a sub-bassified Alicia Keys remix.

Kode 9 on the other hand, at a real venue - he's a badman, as they (Jamaicans sampled on songs made by white English people) say. I think it was him who introduced me to this amazing reissued Baltimore Club track. Unless that was DJ Shadow, same place, different time. I just can't figure out why that part of my life blurs together so much...
posted by atoxyl at 4:30 PM on June 23, 2015


Breaking Bad opener

This is a joke right
posted by aydeejones at 5:21 PM on June 23, 2015


*dies a little inside*

It's really not all about you. Even when the subject is music!
posted by aydeejones at 6:09 PM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really want to respect the music and talk about how I listened to a lot of the underground "dubstep" compilations back before everything got all wubby-wubby, but at the same time I really want to link to this Key and Peele skit and further disrespect the genre...
posted by mmoncur at 7:19 PM on June 23, 2015


Obviously they're major-label super-producers, but looking back quite a few of Leftfield's tracks pre-empted what would become stylistic tics of the early dubstep scene.

Dub Gussett
Rino's Prayer

Of course, they've always been very dub influenced, and very bass heavy, so it's not a huge surprise.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:37 PM on June 23, 2015


I cannot believe they only mention Skull Disco/Shackleton in passing.

::sigh::
posted by droplet at 9:40 PM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


quite a few of Leftfield's tracks pre-empted what would become stylistic tics of the early dubstep scene

I so miss the pith and heft (or is it weft?) of Leftfield. Is there anyone considerable as their heirs/successors, these days?
posted by progosk at 2:44 AM on June 24, 2015


Obviously they're major-label super-producers, but looking back quite a few of Leftfield's tracks pre-empted what would become stylistic tics of the early dubstep scene.

While Leftfield did like to be very loud, I am not sure that you could single them out as pre empting dubstep any more than any number of electronic artists. Chances are also high that the creators of dubstep did not get influenced by any particular 'classic' artists as they were immersed in their own scenes. I have often found that people end up at the same place musically, regardless of their starting point.

The pith and heft of Leftfield can be found anywhere that good production values and solid beats are co located! The good news is that production values are generally getting better as it has become much easier to do in recent years. I am not really up to date with things, but I can recommend DJ Kodiak Kid from Australia. He has been a bit more chillstep recently, but solid beats. Here is one from JPS and Hooves that I heard through him which has a classic Leftfield feel.
posted by asok at 3:56 AM on June 24, 2015


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