If there’s one constant in dubstep, it’s that someone is always declaring it creatively dead.
Certainly since its breakout from the micro-underground in 2006, and probably going right back to the very start, a new factor that is “killing dubstep” seems to have come up monthly: Americans, students, ketamine, egos, coke, being too white, pop remixes, maleness, jetlag… and of course tear-out tunes.
The crux point came, of course, with Caspa & Rusko’s Fabric mix in 2007: the commercial breakthrough for the sound, and one which influenced a whole second generation – young acts that I’ve interviewed, most notably Flux Pavilion and Modestep, will frequently cite it as the first dubstep they ever heard, and of course there are now kids starting to go out for whom it’s been the soundtrack of their entire musical development. 2007 was also the year of Canadian Excision’s first releases on Rottun Recordings that marked the birth of “filth”. As far as a generation of grumpy old (and old-before-their-time) men are concerned, that was dubstep’s annus horribilis.
Yet here we are just over five years later, and for all the hundreds of pronouncements of doom, dubstep is doing just fine, thank you. Neurotic trend-chasers may have abandoned dubstep producers in many cases, but they’ll be back. It is as much a part of the global musical landscape as techno or house – and the fact that techno and house are both still able to throw up exciting new variants despite being something like 25-30 years old should tell you everything you need to know about dubstep’s prospects. And that includes the rowdy stuff.
I have been right in the thick of it, consulting on the Ministry Of Sound Sound of Dubstep compilations, now up to the fifth volume. I won’t pretend I love every track on there – they are commercial compilations, designed to cover all bases, and inevitably choices are going to be made on those bases as well as aesthetic ones – but I am constantly surprised on listening through to candidate tunes just how often they hit me with the visceral thrill of hearing something new, mad and brilliant. This is music that is alive and kicking hard, and you should get used to that, for the following reasons…
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