For those of y’all who aren’t up on Skull Disco, it’s a dubstep label run by Shackleton & Appleblim, a couple of Londoners who are among the most consistently interesting (if not the most consistently dancefloor) dubstep producers out there at the moment. Their new Double CD on Rough Trade, “Soundboy Punishments”, is a pretty comprehensive collection of what theyâ€™ve been up to over the past three years (mostly on Skull Disco, but on a couple of other labels as well). Almost everything theyâ€™ve released is on here, and as far as I can tell there are only two new tracks (â€œGold And Silverâ€ and â€œYou Make Me Cryâ€â€”has anybody seen these around previously?). The tunes generally fall into three categories (with examples provided):
- Your “traditional” (whatever that means) dubstep dancefloor fareâ€”really quite stellar actually; reminiscent of Vex’d, but a little more organic/less DSP-centric.
- Super-dubbed out atmospheric cuts that almost sound more like African Head Charge or Bedouin Soundclash than anything in the dubstep scene at the moment.[audio:uggc://jjj.fyrnmrgbar.pbz/oybt/fxhyy_qvfpb-znwrfgvp_ivfvbaf.zc3]
- Even MORE dubbed-out Middle-Eastern influenced tunes that beg the question “is this even dubstep?” “Tin Foil Sky”, for instance, is the most bass-heavy, tweaked-out Dabke jam you could possibly imagine, but I’m not certain that we’d be calling it “dubstep” if it weren’t for the fact that it’s made by some Londoners who happened to be tied into that whole scene.
Despite dubstep’s current “most futuristic thing going” status, this particular album has a strong 1980s feel, particularly in the drumwork: think super-canned drum machine sounds, gated snares a la Phil Collins (absolutely DRENCHED in Adrian Sherwood-esque delay for good measure), and even doubled-up heavy metal kick drums in “Cheat I”:
Overall it makes for a pretty compelling package. The only real low-point is the 18-minute (yes, I know) Ricardo Villalobos remix of “Blood On My Hands”. Now I’m really not a minimal techno person to begin with, but 18 minutes? Seriously? If you’re going to make a tune over 10 minutes, you really ought to have a damn good reason, and Villalobos just never does. And generally, this whole album could stand to be pruned down a bit. I understand that this is intended to be a comprehensive retrospective type of thing, but if they had taken the strongest 70 minutes of these 2 discs and made THAT into an album it would be a fucking masterpiece, instead of 127 minutes of “here’s all the stuff we’ve done”.
Nonetheless, it’s awesome. Really, just awesome. Just don’t attempt to get through the whole thing in one sitting.
AND NOW, for the free mp3s:
Download: Appleblim; Mystical Warrior
Download: Shackleton; Naked