Bristol Ranking  

Posted by Wayne Bretski

Purple City:

Lots of digital ink has been spilled about what Dubstep is or isn't, but an unquestionable nexus of the bass-heavy wobble is the port city of Bristol, South West England. Peverelist's Punch Drunk label (and electronic dance music mecca Rooted Records), Pinch's Tectonic imprint, and the loose organization of Planet Mu (google them), Bristol's electronic artists have imprinted the charging London Dubstep wobble with a dash of this and that: Sach O over at Passion of the Weiss mentions trip hop, jungle, and Berlin techno. Dubby, crunchy, wobbly, and above all, tuned very loudly to the low end.

In light of the new Peverelist compilation Worth The Weight, I thought I'd add my own needle into the haystack of music coverage and post some of the tracks that hooked me on the across-the-pond awesomeness of the purple sound. But first, the tracks on Worth the Weight from boomkat:

Read full review of Worth The Weight: Bristol Dubstep Classics - Various / Punch Drunk on ©

The Hook:

""When you hear a song, you envisage things: soul music is mahogany, basslines are yellow," says Joker."

The color that unites Joker, Gemmy, and Guido is a rich purple, and as the young players on a rich music scene that has given the world Massive Attack, Portishead, and Tricky, these three have emerged as renowned beatmakers and composers in their own right.

Joker is perhaps the most straightforward producer of the three, and his productions are catchy, in your face, and very wobbly. His Purple Wow Sound mix was the first place I had heard such deep bass, pulsating wobble, and catchy melodies. First, the entire 43:00 mix (download here), followed by a representative sample track from youtube. As always, yt is a complete rabbithole that you can follow wherever you'd like.

Gemmy brings a Jamaican sensibility to the Bristol sound, which befits the long-standing relationship between the island and its former colonial overlord. From Keith Richards taking a break from the Stones to record native Rastafarian chants, to a young Chris Blackwell forming Island Records and signing the young Wailers, English music has long been indebted to Jamaican riddim and vocalization. In London, electronic producers have been using one-off dubplates and toasting throughout the 2000s, with Digital Mystikz' DJ Mala as but a prime example. Gemmy's dubby sound owes plenty to Lee Perry, the Professor, and King Tubby. Bomboclot:

Guido is an electronic music producer with an unmatched ear for composition, reminding me of LA's Teebs, another beatmaker whose album Ardour is full of subtle, layered melody. From the clipped horn sample on "Mad Sax" to the wall of synthesized strings on "Tantalized", Guido's Punch Drunk debut Anidea is worth a cover-to-cover listen.

The Godmother:

No mention of the dubstep scene would be complete without a mention of Mary Anne Hobbs, the innovative Radio 1 deejay, whose compilations on Planet Mu brought the music to a wider audience, including yours truly. Wikipedia here, links to her albums here, and her BBC page which is still up here. She has recently moved on from her position at the Beeb in order to pursue tastemaking in other forms, which are sure to be well-received.

In the post referenced earlier, Sach O concludes:

Contemporary House music is fine to dance to and UK rapping will probably never catch on over the pond, but to me, like Hip-Hop in 88 and 94, punk in 77 to 82, soul throughout the early 70’s and psychedelia in its late 60’s peak, this is era-defining music, material that truly speaks to the times and redefines what it means to be a listener or a participant within a culture.
Hear hear.


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