Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Where is dubstep?

If grime is the voice of angry urban London, dubstep is its primary echo, the sound of dread bass reflecting off decaying walls.

To feel it, leave the sterile cleanliness of London’s centre. Follow the carrier wave as it heads for the margins, travelling south through Elephant & Castle, via Norwood and Thornton Heath to Croydon: the home of dubstep.

It’s not easy to catch the dubstep vibrations of Digital Mystikz’ Mala and Coki, Loefah and Kode 9. It’s a very precise wavelength, found in the riddim spectrum past drum & bass’ caustic anger, miles from house’s ecstatic warmth and a step from grime’s lyrical fury.

You can hear it in mesmerising Hatcha and Crazy D sets at Forward>>, in skunked-out Youngsta sets on Rinse 100.3 and on vinyl at the Big Apple Records shop in Croydon - where Benga, Plasticman, Skreamz or Horsepower are likely to pass through.

Tune your ear right and you’ll detect the secondary echo’s of King Tubby’s dub excursions, Wiley’s and Jammers’ “sinogrime” experiments, strange b-movies, Metalheadz at it’s peak, Zed Bias and El-B’s dark swing, Basic Channel’s decay and Detroit’s mournful machinefunk.

But most of all you’ll hear the echoes of modern multicultural London, of Jamaican, African, Chinese, Indian, American, Cockney and even Scottish accents. Reflections come off crumbling warehouses, dirty towerblocks, endless row terraces, unhinged nightbus rides, skunked-out cars and clattering overland trains. London: this is the defining influence on dubstep; that which gives it its tempered, edgy, compressed character. These are the echoes of a tense, intense city. This is mystical margin music. This is London, 2004.

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