What does dubstep even mean? I guess that's the question. And really it's the question that makes me feel most like a douche bag. Why? Because in answering that question I must reveal my absolute hate for the ten thousand american college students that have become obsessed with the genre over the last year, even though I know they're just trying to have a good time. I have to declare that what they think it means and what it really means are two different things. I have to make the douchy declaration that there is such thing as "real" dubstep as opposed to what they're listening to, dubbed, dickishly enough, brostep. And so the masses hate me.
But it goes further. Those in the know have a full other reason to hate me. Because in discussing dubstep I show my colors as one of the douchiest music cliches of the last fifteen years - the american indie kid obsessed with british dance music. There it is. I am. I'm sorry.
So, fuck it. What is dubstep? Is it dirty dirty homogeneous mid rage worble music, played by frat kids and ironically by hipsters everywhere? no. Just....no. I mean...that is something that these days is called dubstep (in america at least), but lets just ignore that for now. Real dubstep takes it's roots back to the drum and bass music of the 90's, when UK ravers on a lot of drugs started to realize that if you scatter the beats it makes everything feel less solid, more psychedelic. They realized that with dance tracks there didn't need to even be a melody, that the snare hits and bass lines could carry everything. This soon got pulled down and warped into an even subtler, cooler, slightly more party-centric genre of UK garage, or 2-step. Flowing with bright textures, R&B vocals and dun-chick....dunchick beats thinks started getting sublime.
And then....slow it down to 140bpm, add heavy heavy sub bass lines, mix in the darkest most off-putting aspects of dub reggae, toss in a bit of absolutely any other genre you want, and you've got dubstep. Dance music that weights on you, listen to enough of it and it starts rearranging your brainwaves. Slows your pulse, steals your breath. And it keeps growing. What started with Digital Mystikz has moved through the tribal noise music of Shackleton, through the glitch and IDM territory of Mount Kimbie, the Techno influence of Scuba, the ambient rave of Joy Orbison. Blink and something incredible and new will have happened in the scene.
So...where to start? Since it's realease Burial's Untrue has been the rock kid's ticket to ride. Beautiful and entrancing in every way, it takes a significant number of listens to get used to but then there's no turning back. Then theres the whole new guard of more indie leaning step - Mount Kimbie, James Blake, Darkstar, Joy Orbison - would be the next step, they're more immediately interesting, and often stunningly incredible, though they lack the subliminal elements that make the more ambient club tracks feel like god. And after that, just keep digging down, around every corner I seem to find something else incredible. Or don't, you may just end up feeling like a douche bag.
can't take my eyes off you