In a world breathing and bleeding technology, it’s brain-boggling that electronic subgenre dubstep has only just emerged from its underground bunker in the past five years to see but the faintest mainstream light. Thanks to help of Dr. Steve Goodman (a.k.a. Kode9) and his 2004 London-based record label Hyperdub, dubstep is no longer limited to the subterrestrial world of UK clubs, nor the jungle rave sound of its birth. Hyperdub is a factory of fantastical futuristic sound, emitting everything from hip hop oddity Flying Lotus, to the ambient dance music of Kode9 & the Spaceape. And now, with the release of the 2-disc compilation 5: Years of Hyperdub, the label has practically provided us with a Dubstep Guide For Dummies, exhibiting the old, new and rare of bass masters and digital novices from around the globe. I promise you, when the stark silence kicks in after the bleeped out Quarta330 remix of Kode9’s “9 Samurai”, your hyper-firing neurons will be screaming for more.
Disc 1 of 5 is especially newbie friendly with a more chillaxed, spaced-out vibe, featuring unreleased tracks from dub fathers Burial and Kode9, to worth mentioning artists like Darkstar, Martyn and The Joker. King Midas Sound sets the album’s hypnosis into motion with his sweltering cosmic trip-out, “Meltdown.” Detached bass and distant sirens enfolds breathy vocals like smoke in over five minutes of free fall. Darkstar blows away most songs on the disc with his graceful beauty, “Aidys Girls Is A Computer.” A hybrid of Radiohead’s Kid-A era and Crystal Castles’ mellow side, blips of robotic vocals, fairy-like marimbas and outer space synth takes you to the stars and back. The disc ends with Joker & Ginz‘ hip-rolling “Stash.” With a classic clap-bass line and fried-wobble synth, you can’t help but fantasize about being in some sort of urbanized Fifth Element club.
The retrospective Disc 2 is a more energized mix of sci-fi dub (think a toned-down, distorted dance version of Akira meets The Matrix). Featuring Kode9, Burial and The Bug classics, the disc is a perfect picture of Hyperdub’s eclectic nature and my favorite of the two. Kode9’s “9 Samuria” is one of the most paramount pieces of the entire compilation. With dark World War II horns paired with a slow grind beat, the marching dirge makes me wanna pull out my combat boots and party in a tank. Zomby adds a level of sonic cheer with his bouncing M.I.A.ish piece “Spliff Dub (Rustie remix).” With a merge of chopped up bleeps and shaking bass, Zomby attains the perfect balance between club approved groove and prolific electronic experience. Finally, 2000F and J Kamata come together to create the synthed-out hip hop composition “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” The hypergrime anthem may seem a bit soft, but it sure fulfills its purpose of getting you off your feet with its in-your-face clap and soulful samples.
Almost every review I’ve come across notes the only downfall of dubstep is its non-danceable quality. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up on futuristic video game soundtracks, industrial music, and drum and bass, but I highly disagree. I assure you dubstep is far more dance friendly than half the seizure-inducing tunes that exist within the digital music world. In fact, if you’re looking to convert your friends or yourself over to the universe of computerized sound, your safest first step is dubstep. With major hip hop and reggae dub undertones and influences, non-electroheads will feel more comfortable and familiar with what to do with their bodies than if they were to just jump into an Aphex Twin, Venetian Snares, KMFDM or even VNV Nation dance party. So don’t be afriad to leap into the universe of dubstep. For now, check out Burial’s new masterpiece “Fostercare” and Kode9’s infamous “9 Samurai”: