I have an inclination to listen to music that compliments, dramatizes, or simply suits my surroundings at any given time. For instance, I have a “nighttime driving” mix that I would never play in the daylight, or out of the car. Well, the unexpected prevalence of dark, misty mornings in LA has prompted me to return to dark instrumental dubstep music after waking up. Let’s not mistake the “dubstep” I’m writing about here with the grungy, tightly coiled, overwhelming drum and bass “dubstep” that makes ears bleed and crowds of rebellious, rowdy teenagers convulse with happiness (i.e. Skrillex, Rusko, Skream).
The dubstep that I am referring to here is a variation of the genre that signifies its coming of age. Like any blossoming musical/artistic genre or cultural trend, dubstep is in the midst of a serious (and welcomed) transition. That is, its more mature forms are beginning to thoughtfully incorporate characteristics of the genre’s earlier forms in a more focussed and instrumental way. A prime example of the genre’s coming of age is the young and prolific artist, James Blake, who has not only received a lot of attention within the world of dubstep but, more significantly, has also reached so many audiences who had previously screamed “DUBSTEP IS JUST INSOLENT, UGLY NOISE!” Similar examples are recent productions by Burial, Jamie Woon, Emancipator, and Scuba.
Scuba is Paul Rose, and his 2010 album release, Triangulation, is perhaps one of the best dubstep albums I’ve ever heard. Following suit with his moniker, Paul Rose’s latest album has an aquatic sound that makes you feel submerged underwater. Throughout the album, you hear echoing drips of water, sounds of bubbles rising to the surface, manipulated synths that create a sense of underwater pressure, ghostly vocals, angelic strings, and musical currents in the form of rolling bass lines. Although this album flows seamlessly between tracks and therefore deserves to be played from start to finish, “So You Think You’re Special” is a highlight for me.