Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The Dark Side of Dubstep

AbandonSilence here welcomes you into the mind of the wierd and wonderful Antonio Hillandor. Speculation that he and AbandonSilence are one have not yet been confirmed, but rumours are rife. Check it out, it goes pretty deep. Comment if you want, good or bad I don't mind...

Here Goes...

Dubstep. You are probably already sick of hearing about it. Personally I will never grow tired of hearing it. I love it. I love watching it, I love hearing it, I just love the whole experience that the genre has to offer.

However, when you inspect the progression of the sound, a degenerate musical cesspool has been created. A disgusting and embarrassing cesspool that has unfortunately been pigeon-holed along with the quality tunes into being called dubstep.

The higher ground of dubstep has foregone such an extreme makeover over its short existence that it is incredibly difficult to spot the similarities between productions from 10 years ago and today.

However (on the whole) most of the tracks being produced are top notch and feature artists showing their influences on their sleeve. There is Zomby and Doctor P with their rave tendencies, Joy Orbison and SBTRKT indulging in deep house, 6Blocc and Mungo’s Hi Fi with the Dub-reggae, and Instra:Mental, D:Bridge and other luminaries playing with the 2step and light d’n’b sounds.

Despite the existence of these fantastic, forward thinking and progressive producers, there is the formerly mentioned cesspool, let’s call it the dark side of dubstep. This dark side consists of recycled and horribly generic nonsense being played to kids who know no better as a direct replacement for The BlackOut Crew and PleasureRooms or whatever bollocks they used to have as their ringtones. You may recognise “DJ” names (I would definitely recommend inverted commas for them) such as Chrispy, Cookie Monsta or Funtcase.

The path that has been followed to get to this point of embarrassment can be traced back to a precise time a few years. In 2007, Rusko and Caspa released a collaborative FabricLive mix tape that became eponymous with the ‘jump up’ style of dubstep. This genre focused heavily upon the bass wobbles that had previously been just a part of the furniture in dubstep. I appreciate that I may be sounding a bit silly now, but the wobble really is important.

The wobble that was so prominent in that FabricLive compilation formed a basis by which we have observed a musical revolution. These days, almost every artist plying their trade under the dubstep tag creates tracks that use wobbles. I do not hate them, most of the time I love them.

Now back to the characteristics of the dark side. The sounds they emanate usually comes in the form of a remix; which is easier to produce as the beat patterns are already laid out for them. Once they have successfully signposted these patterns, they add an almost undetectable crescendo which leads into some plain ridiculous bass wobbles that a 10 year old could produce if given 5 minutes with Ableton. After their own personal abomination has been ‘finished’, they then turn to their computers and plaster their ‘tunes’ all over the internet. And seen as they have created a remix of a popular (probably also piss poor) track, they then generate a lot of hits as unaware fans of the original will give it a go and then believe that they too are dubstep’s latest fans.

The sad fact of it all is that dubstep’s depressingly crap alter ego has forced the whole genre into the public consciousness. In the last year we’ve had Rihanna and Britney Spears release dubstep tracks. If you were to gaze back at the start, over a decade ago, then that would be unthinkable.

Over 10 years ago in Big Apple Records, Croydon, a group of friends, including amongst them Skream and Benga, found the new sound (Boosh fans). An amalgamation of dub, 2step and UKG; the new sound would be called dubstep. Such legends as the late John Peel and Mary Anne Hobbs were interested and subsequently gave it to a national audience.

Despite the hard work that has geared the progression of the genre, it is incredibly sad to realise that the genre has only gone over ground on the back of the previously mentioned remixes and wobble attacks.

I hope that you haven’t mistaken the last seven paragraphs as me saying dubstep is dead. Not in the slightest. It has been reborn so many times that it is a completely different figure to that that first invaded or national soundscape. It is unrecognisable. But it is still brilliant.

By Antonio Hillandor

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  1. fuck yourself

  2. right on the money

  3. You spelt weird wrong in the first paragraph.

  4. "I hope that you haven’t mistaken the last seven paragraphs as me saying dubstep is dead. Not in the slightest. Well, in a way it is."


  5. Apologies for the contradiction in the final paragraph, cheers for pointing it out so kindly.

  6. Decent article, bit messy but you make your point well

  7. Bravo! It needed be said, and this is said very well. I can guarantee that anyone who is responding to you with hostility got into the sound after mid-2008 and hasn't seen the progression that dubstep has gone through.

    Not to sound "old-school" or whatever but I remember when you used to be able to go to a night and hear a wide variety of sounds ranging from deep bassy tunes, techy grooves, some harder wobblers and dubwise tunes. I've been to nights recently where it's been nothing but jump-up/tear out tracks literally all night long. Nothing against that sound but there's a lot more out there.

    Dubstep will go through some growing pains but luckily there are still enough people experimenting and pushing the envelope that it will continue to grow and develop.

  8. Cheers for all the comments. pleease future commentators (if there are any) leave your name in your comment.

  9. You sire, are so right. I just can't stand that the dubstep I love is being raped by 5 year olds who know how to produce a wobble synth bassline. I just can't stand it.

    People who claim to be "dubstep fan" don't even know what dubstep comes form, nor do they know any of the legends of dubstep (like Skream, Benga, Loefah, Mala and on and on and on..). Poor little fella's don't even know what they're listening to.

  10. indeed,the quality has dropped down,i remember when ppl in dubstep were getting tired of a kick kick and then a snare reverbed then a wobble being generic,now its more kicks and a less interesting snare,with a metalic fire alarm wobble..and ppl still wanna get involved in this shitty genre....future garage >>>>>> dubstep

  11. we have a saying in NZ....yeah nah

    yeah i hear what you're saying but nah you got it all wrong...

  12. Hit the nail on the head with this one.

    Dubstep has become so diverse that every different artist is some how a new genre - the fact is there are many artists that put their full effort into producing and DJing, these should be credited rather then forgotten behind stupid people who grab hold of what they think is good dubstep and pass onto their friends for ringtones.

  13. interusting i just dont get it tho... if its a dope tune its a dope tune and will stand test of time WERD any way fukk all ya haters out there acting like clowns:p
    dubstep or nature tunes 4 life

  14. Aesthetic is personal. Everyone is shit at their craft at the start. There's no point in telling people not to release shit tracks 'cause they don't think they are shit and even if they did, it's good practice. 'Being there at the start' and having an encyclopedic knowledge, besides being products of both luck and free time respectively, are just concepts the ego latches onto to one person (or group) feel superior to another person (or group). This same phenomenon happens to all successful genres, it's a sign of their maturity. I offer D'n'B and Psytrance as two other notable recent examples, both of which are still alive and well, still and producing tracks which surprise and entertain. Granted, there's a torrent of dross, but you always have the choice not to listen. Now this is a personal thing but, I'd like to share it with you. One of the best things I ever did was to make a conscious decision to stop watching television and now I have alot more choice as to what I listen to.

    What I'm trying to say is, that although I understand your sentiment, there is little point in publicly expressing your negativity for anything as subjective as music. The effort could be better spent on searching for new tunes.

    One last thing. I think the attitude of 'your chosen genre here' for life is short sighted, naive, and not something you can state with any certainty. Of course, all this is just opinion. ;)