K and the inter-'nuum transition point

Gabba Flamenco Crossover

High Sierra Skullfuck
Just read Blackdown's piece on funky and really enjoyed it. The way it came across to me was that there's a very definite sense that London's post-UKG elite are pulling away from Dubstep, and not thinking of it as 'their' music any more. Comments about the current dubstep scene in the piece were almost totally ambivalent-verging-on-negative, and it's really interesting that Soulja didn't seem interested in contesting this given how much she and Ammunition have riding on dubstep (by contrast they were careful to keep the door to the grime community open).

I also went to a squat party in west London over the weekend and heard dubstep rinsed on the main system, something that's now a regular event at squat raves. This has been building for more than a year now, but in the last few months dubstep has properly crossed over into the free rave scene.

It seems to me that this has come from two different angles. The rig owners, having often spent tens of thousands on their soundsystems, are unsuprisingly eager to play music that shows off thier pride and joy in the most devastating light. Certainly I've never heard dubstep sound as physical and overwhelming as it did on saturday, played on maybe the best free party rig in the country - a rig that would destroy all bar a tiny handful of London's club soundsystems.

But from the punters point of view, it seems that people have suddenly woken up to the amazing syncronicity between dubstep and ketamine, which I guess was totally unintentional on the part of dubstep's originaters. But K and dubstep were born for one another, just like extacy and acid house... and watching dubstep's sudden boom in squat raves has really reminded me of the lightbulb that went on over people's heads in 88-92 when they first took Es to house music.

It's really interesting to me that the sense of 'back to 2000' that Blackdown identifies in the piece locks into another late 90s timeline - from 94, when artcore jungle was a tiny scene, percieved by the mainstream dance audience as a throwback to a golden age of a few years before; through to 95 when D&B broke into the mainstream, and D&B producers revelled in a sense of 'we told you so'; into 96 and 97 as the doubts about the path D&B was taking were voiced with increasing volume within the London pirate scene, until 98 which was really the year that the London pirates completely abandoned D&B.

It seems that you could map that exact timeline onto dubstep 2003-2007. And the reason it's began to alienate the London massive is the same; the music has 'lost the soul' - like D&B before it, dubstep become a science of atom-splitting beats and bass manipulation that only works on the scale of the crowd.

And how fitting that this new London music is called funky - because 'the funk' is what dubstep had to squeeze out before it could be accepted by squat ravers. All the funky stuff of life - sex, lavisciousness, curve and swing, 'physical' in the human, sensual use of the word - are the traits that ketamine supresses. The sensations that dubstep now amplifies are 'physical' in the other meaning of the word - robotic, astral, post-human, the universe of bubbling plasma and lunatic physics that ketamine opens the door to.

So what we're seeing in 2007 is dubstep moving over the ketamine threshold - out of the London 'nuum of champagne, charlie and glamour/playa/laydeez culture, and into the provincial 'nuum of techstep, gabba, breaks and acid tekno. As a sometime champion of the provincial 'nuum and a long-time defender of free party culture, it's a little amusing to see London 'nuum heads retreating behind a wall of what is basically MoS-style funky house (love the paragraphs of sematic splitting in Blackdown's article) - are we seeing a little inverse-inverse-snobbery here? :D

Meanwhile I'm itching to see what the squatland bass technicians can mutate this music into. Dub-core, anyone? Maybe half-gabba?
 

mistersloane

heavy heavy monster sound
have you heard what life4land and monsta are doing with it? it's exactly that wot you described, mucho mucho sherman business, it's nice, makes a change from fucking breakcore on that scene anyway, and btw you're totally on the money with all of that.
 

noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
So what we're seeing in 2007 is dubstep moving over the ketamine threshold - out of the London 'nuum of champagne, charlie and glamour/playa/laydeez culture,
What dubstep nights have you been going to? ;)

Dubstep was never in 'the London 'nuum of champagne, charlie and glamour/playa/laydeez culture', it started partly as a reaction to that if anything.

I'm sure you know that Abacus have been involved in organising squat parties with some central dubstep people. The last one didn't quite happen though.
 
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muser

Well-known member
yep dubstep seems to pretty much be a standard addition for free parites across the southwest now and its been visibly coming for about a year or so to this point, I even got to see luke envoy play under an underpass a couple of months ago, didn't realize it was him till halfway through the set! I'm not sure if K heads have turned to dubstep as much as you think, in my experience things like techno & hardtek/jungletek are still much more popular.

Were you talking about bristol's own dissident rig by any chance? If not then I think they would contend ;)
 
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Grievous Angel

Beast of Burden
Great post.

Dubstep is sexy, visceral, physical music in my opinion, and dubstep's beats and bass combination is inherently steeped in funk. Just listen to the hats on any record by the big producers - even listen to people like Caspa and Distance, even when they're doing mid-rangey gear, it's still hugely funky. I think any reaction with K and anhedonic anti-physicality is a perverse twisting of dubstep out of its original shape, similar to what happened when the white metal heads got hold of jungle and turned it into drum and bass.

The natural reaction of dubstep has been to 1) re-embrace house and garage's forward momentum - see Mala, 2562, TRG, Martyn; 2) re-embrace grime and reggae vocals; and potentially, 3) adopt r'n'b textures (which no-one is doing but me right now so far as I am aware but this will be a big trend in 08).

Dubstep is so good it was bound to bring about its dialectical opposite. K-head wallowing is one negative reaction; funky house propulsion is the positive one.

Me? I've just spent 500 quid on 80s classical dancehall, 99-era 2step and post-garagiste dubstep.
 
N

nomadologist

Guest
Dubstep is funky? Can anyone point me to some examples of funky dubstep?
 
N

nomadologist

Guest
just found a video that answers all my questions about how people dance to dubstep

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Logos

Ghosts of my life
And how fitting that this new London music is called funky - because 'the funk' is what dubstep had to squeeze out before it could be accepted by squat ravers. All the funky stuff of life - sex, lavisciousness, curve and swing, 'physical' in the human, sensual use of the word - are the traits that ketamine supresses. The sensations that dubstep now amplifies are 'physical' in the other meaning of the word - robotic, astral, post-human, the universe of bubbling plasma and lunatic physics that ketamine opens the door to.

Don't think this is true really...dubstep was just like reinforced darkcore or NUT/Headz before it...mining the darker sounds, pushing the more mental/out there seam of a certain sound. Thats not the same as purging the swing by any means.

I enjoyed the Abacus party early this year a lot but fuck me, if all dubstep has to look forward to is being the soundtrack to fucking crusties getting off their faces on K I'm off. I'd rather rave somewhere where stepping on someones £100 Nike Airs is bad for your health to be honest!
 

Gavin

booty bass intellectual
I went to a dubstep night in Chicago a couple weeks ago, it was pretty good. The opening DJ was local (had a Midwest Dubstep Forum T-shirt on), pretty good, though heavy on the straight-up bangers, which sounded pretty tech-y, not too funky (but lots of bass). White ragga vocalist was... so-so, not nearly as horrible as he could have been. Plastician was the headliner and he definitely brought a lot more funk to it, more reggae influence, stuff you could actually dance wit yr girl to. Oh, and he dropped Ayo Technology, worked perfectly! Good vibe and pretty packed: you could tell people were excited for a dubstep night, and the whole thing improved massively after I smoked a spliffy in the bathroom between sets. So yeah, a lot of questions answered as far as funky vs. banging/dancing/necessity of spliffs/etc. I'd go to another one fer sure.
 

matt b

Indexing all opinion
The natural reaction of dubstep has been to 1) re-embrace house and garage's forward momentum - see Mala, 2562, TRG, Martyn; 2) re-embrace grime and reggae vocals; and potentially, 3) adopt r'n'b textures (which no-one is doing but me right now so far as I am aware but this will be a big trend in 08)

having attended the last exodus, the reggae element seems to be becoming somewhat more overt in the dubplates of mala (and skream to a lesser extent).

the focus on the drop has hampered dubstep greatly this year, but when reggae heads are bigging up the the more 'mixing of elements' (for want of a better term other than 'dubbing') aspects of the deeper stuff, there's no reason to get too dispondant- modern uk-dub like dubateers and mala's stuff certainly have distinct similarities, although the tradition still holds sway on a big system (and rightly so).
 
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nomadologist

Guest
I think we have different ideas of what "funky" means. Really vastly different.

Not that I don't like the general production values/aesthetic of dubstep, and some of the beats, but I really don't hear the funk. For me "funk" is a certain sort of beat and way of pitch-bending melodically at certain parts in a hook.

You know like the Spinners "Rubberband Man." Or even Can's "Halleluwah."
 

zhao

there are no accidents
whats funny is that with all the talk of dubstep being something one should experience live, presumably with low frequencies rattling ribcages and all that, these days i much prefer listening to it at home or in the studio. when i want something easy on the brain but energetic, and not fast and annoying like techno.
 

matt b

Indexing all opinion
I think we have different ideas of what "funky" means. Really vastly different.

i know this is simplistic, but:

Funk is an American musical style that originated in the mid- to late-1960s when African American musicians blended soul music, soul jazz and R&B into a rhythmic, danceable new form of music. Funk de-emphasizes melody and harmony, and brings a strong rhythmic groove of electric bass and drums to the foreground. Unlike R&B and soul songs, which had many chord changes, funk songs are often based on an extended vamp on a single chord.

[from wikipedia]

the best dubstep defo hits this, although the sheer weight of macho bangers has drowned it out this year
 

Gabba Flamenco Crossover

High Sierra Skullfuck
Were you talking about bristol's own dissident rig by any chance? If not then I think they would contend ;)

Were they the ones doing the upstairs room at the last generator? If so that's a terrific rig. Not as good as the one I heard last wekend though, although they're mates so I'm biased :).
 

matt b

Indexing all opinion
whats funny is that with all the talk of dubstep being something one should experience live, presumably with low frequencies rattling ribcages and all that, these days i much prefer listening to it at home or in the studio. when i want something easy on the brain but energetic, and not fast and annoying like techno.

part of the problem is, imo, that a big system can be forgiving to the stuff you dislike.

it's nowhere near the healing effect of reggae onsame though, granted.
 
N

nomadologist

Guest
i know this is simplistic, but:

Funk is an American musical style that originated in the mid- to late-1960s when African American musicians blended soul music, soul jazz and R&B into a rhythmic, danceable new form of music. Funk de-emphasizes melody and harmony, and brings a strong rhythmic groove of electric bass and drums to the foreground. Unlike R&B and soul songs, which had many chord changes, funk songs are often based on an extended vamp on a single chord.

[from wikipedia]

the best dubstep defo hits this, although the sheer weight of macho bangers has drowned it out this year

Right. So how on earth is dubstep funky again? The beat is entirely different and much more mechanical.
 
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