November Dubstep Update : Full Albums

After a little break, I decided to return to writing with a little dubstep update. I’ve decided to zoom in on some of the full albums that have been dropping in the recent months. 2009 really has been the year of full albums I suppose as more artists than ever have chosen this medium over the more traditional single and EP formats. And with good reason. Full albums might not be the appropriate format for mixing and DJ’ing, it is the appropriate format to answer to the rising demand of dubstep. As usually, quality and variation sprout from this process. Here is a look at some of the full albums that have coloured the year so far. With only one month left in 2K9, this will also serve as an introduction to my upcoming ‘End of Year’ feature which will have an elaborate section devoted to dubstep of course.

2562 – Unbalance (tectonic)
Dave Huismans’ (aka 2562) debut full length album, Aerial, was a perfect synthesis of Bristol inspired dub/garage and (minimal) techno. It was a very accomplished album that also had a few big tunes on it (Techno Dread). I was less pleased with this sophomore album. It has more swirly rhythms and has less of a direct dubstep sound to it. The techno elements have also been reduced and it feels just that little bit abstract. It is no surprise that the single, Love in Outer Space (out on tectonic), is probably the best thing this album has to offer. It still is about 50% two-step and 50% techno/house so it keeps a middle ground that will appeal to a bigger audience than the rest of the album does.

Boxcutter – Arecibo Message (Planet Mu)
You will find plenty of Mu releases in this list. Boxcutter’s effort, though in my opinion one of the weaker ones out on Mu, still deserves mentioning here as it is a daring and experimental effort at retracing the history of dub into one single album. Analogue synths, guitar pedals and delays herald a new direction for Barry Lynn on this album. Loads of rave influences, two-step and even deep house shows the variety of this album, but it just lacks that little craftmanship to set it apart from many other releases.

Cloaks – Versus Grain (3by3)
You can find the review of this album on this blog (browse the archive section or use the search function) so I will not go into details about this album here.

Clubroot – Clubroot (Lo-Dubs)
What an amazing debut album this is. It’s not very renewing indeed. All influences are easily recognisable. There’s a big chunk of Burial in there (or garage in general). Sections influenced by drum & bass dj’s like Ed Rush & Optical make an appearance as well. Dark dubstep bass, present on earlier releases by iTAL tEK etc. form another key ingredient. But all this is brought into a perfect mix suitable for home listening. Don’t expect dance floor crackers on this album. But it’s a very ambient and moody listening experience. One of my favourite albums of the year.

DFRNT – Metafiction (lo-dubs)
DFRNT’s debut full length is a nice mixture of dubstep rhythms, ambient features and typical dub techno harmonics much in the vein of  artists like G.R.I.T., Quantec (who also contributes a remix on disc two). It’s not dance floor dub, but it’s surely an amazing listening experience and the opening track Wake Up is a true gem. Not all content on the double CD is of equal standard, but overall it will be worth your money. Some big names contributing remixes as well (SYNKRO, iTAL tEK,…).

Falty DL – Love is a Liability (Planet Mu)
One of the years early releases, this one has stood the test of time. The opening track Human Meadow should be enough reason to acquire this. The rest of the album doesn’t quite reach that quality (except for maybe Winter Sole or Dyonysis). It’s atypical dubstep with a lot of garage, deep house and even electro mixed into it to form a unique mixture. He’s also one of the most essential non-UK producers of the year in my opinion. (check his 12″ on Ramp Records!).

Kryptic Minds – One of Us (Swamp 81)
One of the contenders for full album of the year. Broody, dark and atmospheric dubstep, sounding quite old school (no compromise on the bass). In fact, Kryptic Minds are one of the artists of the year as far as I’m concerned, and this killer album is probably their best piece yet. The quality is not just in the singles (Six Degrees) but every track has some section or part that is worthwhile. And the entire cd is just such a cohesive final product. Can easily listen to all of this in one go. Great album.

Legion of Two – Riffs (Planet Mu)
More action from Planet Mu. LoT are duo from Ireland who have made the switch from heavier industrial productions (like Scorn) to the dubstep playing field. It’s a decent and very dark work, unfortunately the single featured on Marry Ann Hobbes’ Wild Angels (And Now We Wait) is probably the most impressive track.

Martyn – Great Lengths (3024)
Review featured on this weblog, use the search function or click on the ‘review archive’ to find it.

RSD – Good Energy (A Singles Collection) (Punch Drunk)
This isn’t exactly new material. It contains all the singles from RSD on one disk. Which still makes it an essential buy (not just for Punch Drunk Records fans like me). It has all the big tunes from the past years (Jah Way, Speeka Box, Pretty Bright Light, King Fisher…) and adds the 2009 12″ + a few bonus tracks. RSD combines heavy bass perfectly with Jamaican riddims and even techno. One of my favourite producers.

These are the full albums that have coloured my year so far. Yes I’m aware I’ve missed out on Silkie – City Limits and a few others, but that particular album will see a seperate review soon, as for me it is the best dubstep album from 2009. In the next edition I will make some room for Mixed releases and releases by Various Artists (for example, 5 Years of Hyperdub, Dubstep Allstars vol. 7, Wild Angels,…).
See you then .

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