June 13, 2011

Sach O was pleasantly surprised by this one.

I don’t know what I hate more: lazy, uninspired hard-Dubstep or lazy, uninspired music journos complaining about hard Dubstep. The former is unlistenable and has single-handedly given the genre a bad rap while the later has resulted in some of the worst stylistic discrimination in music writing since the salad days of G-Funk. It’s ironic because much like Gangsta rap, Dubstep has evolved into bad boy music du jour with wantonly aggressive sounds replacing street tales and in both cases, any uniformity lies in the eye of uninformed beholder Dig deeper (and ignore the sell outs) and it becomes increasingly easy to separate the gems from the duds.

Emalkay’s Eclipse is clearly a gem thanks to fantastic sound design, junglist flourishes and a surprisingly subtle sense of musical composition. Reaching back to the early 90s, the album draws a direct line between the ‘Ardkore populism of early rave music and the equally working class (and critically bashed) beats currently dominating the UK. While no one’s going to confuse this with a Four Tet or Burial record, it’s patently unfair to lump it in with the untalented midrange screamers that populate the Beatport charts. Keeping the mood dark and never blunting his music’s impact, Emalkay knows his audience but doesn’t pander to them, ignoring the temptation to drop 10 half-step bone-crushers and instead opting for variety within his 140 BPM template. Opening number Fabrication is a wobbler and a good one at that but it’s tunes like the subby Crusader, the Baby D assisted rave-up Keep On Goin and the pop centered The World that leave a lasting impact, elevating the disc to memorable status.

Spliced between these is the kind of hard-hitting instrumental Dubstep that Dub Police is known for, a dicey proposition in principle but through craftsmanship and restraint, the tunes work flawlessly as genre exercises – much to the shagrin of those who wish the genre would just go away. Eclipse won’t win any prizes for originality or receive much critical praise but it will find its way into many a DJ’s crate and will rock many a party. Like the early 90s rave music it draws inspiration from, it ignores the head completely and goes straight for the gut and while that may unfortunately preclude it from attention in certain circles, it’s an approach that’s resonant enough to find fans elsewhere.

MP3: Emalkay – Fabrication (128KBPS)

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