In 2008, NYC based Subatomic Sound teamed up with Vienna’s dub masters Dubblestandart to begin a series of limited edition 12” vinyl exclusives that brought together iconic originators in the history of dub reggae with the gritty underground vibes of the dubstep movement.The lead 12”, “Iron Devil”, included the first ever dubstep tracks from both Lee Scratch Perry and Prince Far-I, produced in collaboration with Dubblestandart and remixed by Subatomic Sound System and Paris’ Tom Watson.Released on hand stamped vinyl in vintage Jamaican jackets, “Iron Devil” disappeared from shelves worldwide in less than a week. In 2009, the follow up vinyl was dedicated to an explosive pairing of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry with rising Brooklyn dancehall reggae star Jahdan Blakkamoore that revisited Perry’s ‘70s classic “Blackboard Jungle” off the seminal album of the same name, a cornerstone of dub reggae that featured Scratch and King Tubby at the controls. These collaborations are very interesting for their ability to conjure new trends with older sounds, showcasing how far dance music has come in the last few years.
The third 12” in the series is entitled “Chrome Optimism” and on this release Dubblestandart brings together the most unbelievable combination yet, a world class summit of mad genius : Jamaican dub originator Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry together with American filmmaker David Lynch, plus as an added bonus, famed French avant garde composer Jean-Michel Jarre. On “Chrome Optimism”, Scratch exercises his inimitable gift to juxtapose spirituality with humor through wordplay that walks a line between nonsense and profundity: “Hello, Hell is very low and Heaven is very, very high!”David Lynch responds with equally mind twisting metaphors like “Euphoric, chrome optimism” and mantras like “The ideas tell you how they want to be”, describing his powerful experience and obsession with transcendental meditation.The otherworldy melody from Jean-Michel Jarre’s famous composition “Oxygen Part 4” floats over the top. Vienna’s Dubblestandart, NYC’s Subatomic Sound System, & Bristol’s RSD switch up the musical vibes beneath, moving from hard charging dubstep to Perry’s classic dub reggae to spacey soundscapes typical of Lynch & Jarre aesthetics. And surprinsingly enough, it works like a match made in heaven.
The “Chrome Optimism” vinyl EP features two remixes from Subatomic Sound System, as well kicking off the A side with the first, a bombastic distorted sub-bass heavy beast that threatens to define a new genre somewhere between dubstep, dub reggae, and the twisted ambience of David Lynch’s film scores. A very mesmerizing EP that’s gonna rock dubstep crowd as well as old school dub heads.
Dubblestandart, David Lynch & Lee Scratch Perry : Chrome optimism (Subatomic Sound US : 2010)
Here is an interesting project by Evan Bartholomew, better known as Bluetech, producer of psychedelic influenced IDM sound (PsyDM) and an owner of a prolific record label, Native State Records. Sounds like a mixture of psybient and dubbed out downtempo. Nowadays he records on an independent label, Somnia, where along with a roster of modern classical musicians, he releases limited copies of minimal, electro-acoustic and ambient dreamscapes under his own name, Evan Bartholomew. In this fourth Somnia release, Dreamtime Submersible, Bartholomew teams up with the legendary Steve Hillage, ex member of The Orb, and offers ambient soundscapes with dub techno influences. Dreamtime Submersible is an album with a continuous mix of evolving sweeps, that becomes a single unfolding composition within seven movements, each transforming and elaborating on a theme. Steve Hillage, whose discography trails into the 70s – most notable for his ambient techno project with Miquette Giraudy, System 7. A continuous sweep of a story-telling emotion that is impossible to interrupt in mid-sentence. Not once a repeated pattern of signal processing carecterize the music here. Each note is carrying an immeasurable delay that feeds into an eternal enveloppe. The album begins with a bass theme which evokes a 4/4 kick drum that my brain just can’t place at the beginning of each measure. It comes in between the bars (as a hi-hat would).. And then every measures are becoming seamless, with a feeling reminding of Dreamfish, as if we’re submerged deep under water…. I end up listening to a unique melodic pattern every time. And approach on a different path towards the core of dreamtime. On each arrival, I am fully submerged in a warm trance of bliss and harmony. Enjoy…
Steve Hillage & Evan Marc : Intention craft (2008 : Dreamtime Submersible : Somnia records)
King Midas is a dubstep project composed of Kevin Martin and London/Trinidad poet Roger Robinson. Martin has stated that his influences are Adrian Sherwood, Lee Perrey and Public enemy. King Midas sound is my absolute stroke of genius for 2010. So far, King Midas Sound has made an amazing dubstep album that combines the Hyperdub sound with soundscapes reminescent of Massive attack’s soul sensibilites. Think Massive Attack at their most sinister, their most fluid – the heavy ganja vibes of Inertia Creeps mixed with the ethereal drift of 100th Window, perhaps – and you’re halfway there.. I honestly haven’t heard such amazing qualites in a long time in a new record. Some people complained that the album was too quiet. I would like to point out that it is much challenging to make something sounds sultry as much as King Midas. You don’t start doing tracks as these from the get go, you nurture this type of sounds as Dubstep doesn’t necesserely has to be the next drum and bass trend i.e. loud. Therefore, Martin’s production forgoes the stereotypical dubstep war of bassbin attrition to let the beats glow instead of flash, and even when it approaches an actual heavy knock, like the underlying dancehall bump of “Outta Space” with the smothered Mantronix boom-clap. Waiting for you has plenty of chilled vibes and this is dub production submitted to a solid structure as if he wants to tells a story about the final reverberations of a deserted cityscape. This is infused with a crumbling low-end bass that seems to give birth to the songs. And the voice decorates it like a spiderweb : fragile in appearance, but accurately strong enough to hold a flow against the rhythm. Every strength this record holds draws off the symbiotic relationship between Martin’s beats and Robinson’s voice, which adapt well to each other. It’s definetely work that stands as above average. Maybe it has just been waiting for you…
King Midas sound : Waiting for you (Hyperdub : 2009 : Waiting for you)