All of my (perhaps largely ideological) criticisms of recent dubstep notwithstanding, Kode9's "Spit
" (with Daddy G on the spooky spoken word) sounds
fantastic, a wonderfully menacing dub-bass pulse fractured by shards of beat action. Not so much a subset of garage as a claustrophobic hallucination of it, the rhythms writhing uneasily and unexpectedly like deviant electric wires. Also reliably great (cos Jess
said so) is the dystopian mechabeat of Zinc's "People 4": slamming industrial crunk with the same relationship to garage as The Bug has to dancehall (MC Dynamite filling the role of Cutty Ranks or whoever).
Perhaps these approaches exemplify the approach that dubstep should now be taking - dropping the blind belief that dubstep is still the way forward for garage, and instead watching for hints and suggestions from the scene proper - new directions, incomplete stories, unexplored by-ways - and exploiting these to the fullest. What's nice about The Bug is the sense that Kevin Martin on the one hand clearly loves current dancehall, and yet knows that the best way for him to express that appreciation is allowing it to inform his own quite distinct approach to music.
To say that the best thing dubstep can do right now is become entirely parasitic
in a similar fashion is not as much an indictment as it may seem - Basement Jaxx become more parasitic all the time, and are all the better for it. Not every such relationship leads to a Squarepusher-style misrecognition
of the host scene's fundamental qualities, and if dubstep can keep half an eye on the dancefloor whilst running with these discarded threads, its future might not be so dim afterall.
...Sadly, the grim procession of Horsepower Productions' "Voodoo Spell" would seem to confirm my worst fears - a repetitive doom-steppa that is almost indistinguishable from '98 era Optical/Jonny L-style neurofunk, except at a draggier tempo; its "edgy" thump-beat reminiscent of Menta's "Ramp" but with all the fun, energy and real
menace surgically extracted in favour of myopic abstraction. Whither the frisky zest of "Pimp Flavours" etc? Just listening to this track feels like running down a tunnel and into a dead end.