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Dubstep: five albums to start with April 30, 2009

Posted by sjroby in Music.
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Burial: Untrue

Burial: Untrue

A few posts back I talked about compilations and mix albums. Now for some single artist albums.

Burial: Untrue. Actually, the first album (Burial) is excellent, too, but this one feels a bit more developed and consistent. It’s a mix of disparate elements (2step, R&B, even ambient), but Burial makes a cohesive whole of the parts. On the one hand, it’s relatively accessible; its distorted R&B vocal samples give many of the tracks more of a song feel than you sometimes get with instrumental dubstep. It’s atmospheric, spooky, and strangely beautiful. It’s one of the best known and hyped albums to come out of the scene, one of the few to get attention from people who aren’t particularly interested in dubstep, but it deserves all that attention.

Kode9 and the Spaceape: Memories of the Future. More of a dub-inflected sound, with a vocal presence on most of the tracks provided by the Spaceape. The Spaceape rumbles and mumbles about “hostile aliens immune from dying” in a Caribbean accent. (It’s not surprising that his list of influences on his myspace page includes Ballard, Deleuze, and David Cronenberg along with various others.)

Pinch: Underwater Dancehall. The title gives a bit of a hint of the album’s sound: the underwater fits well with the dubbed out, echoing sounds, and dancehall — well, vocalists like Juakali give some of the tracks a dancehall reggae feel, for the vocal side at least. The CD has two discs, the first including vocal versions of several tracks, the second the same album again but entirely instrumental. I generally listen to the first, because the vocals add a lot to the sparse soundscapes. Juakali provides the reggae deejaying/rapping style on three songs, Rudey Lee does sung reggae vocals on one, Yolanda does some standout R&B singing on two songs, and Indi Kaur provides a hint of Bollywood on one.

Headhunter: Nomad. Dubstep evolved separately from dub techno, but Headhunter brings some serious dub techno influences to the fore here, as well as some minimal techno. The techno influence is playing a growing part in the sound of a number of more recent dubstep recordings, moving away from the simpler and rougher banging party tunes that’s become one of the more popular but less interesting directions the genre’s moving in.

Benga: Diary of an Afro Warrior. This has one of the biggest of the banging party tunes to come out of dubstep, the irresistible “Night” (co-produced by Coki), and the album has more of a dancefloor orientation than at least one or two of the albums above, but it also has enough variety to offer some real breadth and depth. It’s listenable as an album, not just a soundtrack to a night out.

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