Underwater Dancehall


Well-known member
intentional or not, much as i liked it, i did think it was a bit too high-end focused or something. it was almost a bit twee from a production standpoint. a bit rickety, even. and yes, tricky is what came to mind, although at least with tricky, there was a certain grittiness and dirt to his production. the kode/ape album just seemed a bit lightweight in places, kind of like underwater dancehall. i know albums are the chance to play around a bit outside the musics usual parameters but its almost like they thought 'album... this might get different people into us... it cant be TOO heavy'.


entered apprentice
Yeah Tricky has a grain to his sound-sources (think tribal clunking percussion and haunted pan pipes etc) that give his early music especially a highly evocative ambiance. Kode9s use of primitive synthetic synths/drums mean that it felt a little cheesy and ersatz at times in comparison.


Well-known member
yes - cheesy and ersatz are exactly it. where tricky at least had that heaviness or dirt when necessary (and even when he didnt, his sounds were processed and personalised/treated), kode and some dubstep producers, dont seem to do that, probably cos they have to stick to the surgical cleanliness that the rest of the music is built with. the stock sounds definitely dont help - it just sounds a bit weak sometimes. almost insipid.
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entered apprentice
It was a bit annoying as all the singles on there are fucking awesome, (plus they didn't include their most radical piece "Fukkaz" with its atonal cut up sitar lines!)... ho hum tho eh? Kode9 is still utterly the man in many other respects tho (especially his DJ sets and his self-avowed oppositional status to whatever hegemony rules the day in Dubstep Ordinaire).


Well-known member
agreed. TBH, i think it was mainly the melodies that bugged me about that album. they seemed similar to the muzaky elements of say, more specials, but a bit nondescript, just general, watery sketches of melancholy.

back to underwater dancehall though!


entered apprentice
I like Kode9's use of echo effects a lot.

Hmmm...? But generally its quite conventionally classic dub isn't it? Long delay patterns... I do enjoy some of his reverb stuff (eg- on "Quantum" and "Sine of the dub") where you suddenly feel as if yr heads been pushed into a massive vaulting cave... but this only really works when there is enough space in the track to allow you to appreciate it, otherwise it just equals a big sloppy mess (always the chief danger with excessive delay/reverb abuse)


You're right but I'm a huge huge sucker for both echo and reverb, even though they can sound awfully amateurish in the wrong hands. Used to have an original space echo with tape in it...ran everything through it, synths, guitars. Not in a Radiohead way.


booty bass intellectual
This book should probably not stop at 1960.



Well-known member
Listened to this album a few times now, and well I've got mixed feelings. It just feels a bit weak to me in a lot of places. Some of the songs don't seem to go anywhere, and it all seems a bit thin and cold in places without any real musical depth in places I find. Having said that Airlock and Lazarus are two of the best songs I've heard this year, and the songs with Juakali work well. I guess I'm just not a big fan of this cold dark futuristic sound that I think Zhao mentioned earlier, but the songs where Pinch really gets a good sense of melody like Lazarus and Qawwali seem much stronger and more appealing to me at least.

noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
Still not heard this but is it the case that he's left a load of really good tracks off it? Chamber Dub is on Box Of Dub 2 and I don't think Boots has been released. And then there's that 179 BPM thing on the recent single.


Tight but Polite
Bump seeing as I didn't have the album when the thread originally came up.

I think a great deal of Gek's original post is 100% OTM. The point about needing more space in the vocals is spot on, although I do like a lot of the vocals and like the extra dimension they add to the tracks - I'd be really interested to hear dubs of a lot of the vocal tracks rather than either full vocal / purely instrumental.

My only other problem with it is that although the restraint and subtlety is part of what makes it work as an album, it'd be kind of nice if it occasionally gave in to the temptation to really break out and go flat out cheesy for a bit - as it is, it comes a bit close to being all tension and no release.

Other than that I'm absolutely loving it though.

Too many people in this thread are getting something confused that is quite important i think:

Music does not have to have SOUL to evoke emotions. You can get the most dry, clicky piece of music that sounds completely inhuman, and if it's good enough it will still make you feel something. Early techno is great at doing this - there's an ambiguity about what the producer themselves is feeling, but it can still make you feel alot.
Certainly part of what I love about this album is that for all that it's clean and precise and shiny, it's actually very emotionally engaging and varied. Although I'd say the point is more that music doesn't have to be humanistic and organic to have soul - and early techno is definitely a classic example of this.

And on dubstep not being dance music - I don't even think you have to go to a club to understand that good dubstep is great dance music. For me it's all about the tension in the beats between the 140bpm pace and all the other tempos that run through the music cos of the half step or whatever unusual rhythm is being used. It's not obvious dance music like digitalism or something, but it's very much danceable.
Absolutely agree with that too. What I find with dubstep a lot of the time is that I hear the swaying halftime headnod until I make a conscious effort to pick up on the double speed rhythm (or until someone plays a two-step or 4x4 track that lays it out flat) and bounce along with it but after that I'm locked into it and can't imagine how you could not dance to this music. At least for quite a lot of dubstep. Some of it really is just plod without any uptempo element, but I don't think that's the majority.

Oh and to blow Ben UFO's trumpet for him a bit, if you want to hear the side of dubstep that isn't just wubwubwub THUMP wuwuwubwubwub THUMP CRANK and features a bit of swing, a bit of bounce, maybe even a bit of sex appeal, you could do a lot worse than check his show, Ruffage Sessions, on www.subfm.com . It's on tonight at 8pm GMT or get one from the archives.