DITDC: RSD – Good Energy (A Singles collection)

Sach O bringin’ ya Badman Sounds. I know dear readers, I know: enough with the bass/dubstep already. Jeff lives next to Low-End Theory, that’s his excuse but shouldn’t I be reporting on Studio...
By    February 2, 2010


Sach O bringin’ ya Badman Sounds.

I know dear readers, I know: enough with the bass/dubstep already. Jeff lives next to Low-End Theory, that’s his excuse but shouldn’t I be reporting on Studio 1 obscurities or the latest in (potentially but not really) game changing rap? The truth is even more sinister than you think: I talk about this stuff on the site’s (secret, elitist, real-rap hating) forum constantly. I’ve already demanded that the Blurry Drones’ project name be changed to DougBASS Martin. But the fact of the matter is, when you’ve spent most the past decade listening to reissues from your parents’ era and scavenging for the last few shreds of rap that you can connect with in any way, you tend to get excited at the prospect of a current musical movement that you can embrace whole-heartedly. Plus, the leap from dub to dubstep isn’t all that huge as today’s DITDC candidate proves.

As half of the Dub-oriented production duo Smith & Mighty, Rob Smith has had a meteoric impact on Bristol’s music scene for over 20 years. From producing Massive Attack’s Hip-Hop heavy debut single (Any Love) way back in 1988 to early Bristol Jungle experiments to UK-to-JA collaborations with Henry & Louis (Time will Tell), Rob Smith and Ray Mighty have been integral in Bristol’s musical development and the duo have constantly and consistently kept their sound dubwise and bass heavy, no matter the genre or era they’ve worked in. In this respect, Dubstep’s emergence to the forefront of England’s dance culture proved to be a serendipitous occurrence: Rob Smith (now solo as RSD) had been making future-dub for years by the time it found itself a new name and worldwide audience. Released at the tail end of last year, “Good Energy” collects the man’s recent output for Punch Drunk and a few other associated labels and proves that like reverb in a soundclash, dub’s impact has only echoed out further over time.

Standing apart from the neon-futurism of Bristol young bucks Joker, Guido and Gemmy, RSD’s sound can now be described by its sub-genre: dub & step. The dub is obvious with massive basslines and cavernous drums that would make King Tubby proud and echoed out vocals that sound beamed in from Kingston 30 years past. The step is what makes it worth your while though: rather than squeaky clean dub recorded through modern equipment, RSD’s tracks pack a constant energy and enough propulsion to push you to skank and – dare I say it, bruck out on the dancefloor. The ghosts of jungle haunt tunes like “Corner Dub” and “Green Hill” with the soulful tones of the later dropping out to reveal furious drum science that’s as deep as it is energetic. Even the more laconic tracks such as “The Love of Jah light” carry enough force to compel movement, if not through percussive agility then through sheer heaviness. This is clearly the work of a man that not only remembers his city’s musical past but also loves and embraces it enough to carry those traditions into the future. That the results are so fresh as to stand on their own and make his past accomplishments irrelevant to the discussion are proof that his skills on the board are as sharp ever and as anybody’s.

RSD’s finest moment however may just be “Koto,” which samples the titular Japanese instrument and places it into the middle of a heavyweight context with the results sounding like the illest Street Fighter II theme that never was. Asian instrumentation in dub is nothing new so it takes considerable daring to attempt it without the results sounding like pseudo-mystical gunk but RSD pulls it off with a swirling melody that sweeps you up while the track’s bottom keep you grounded. Unsurprisingly, that fits in perfectly with Rob Smith’s ethos: pushing music forward without forgetting your roots. Hence all the bass music around here.

MP3: RSD – “Corner Dub (Blue & Red mix)”

MP3: RSD – “Koto”

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