These days, the evolution of dubstep is a touchy topic.
Despite the clickbait headlines periodically spewed by pop-EDM muckrakers, the genre is not dead — contrarily, the 140 sound has a more powerful global presence now than ever before. Still, within the community, any assertion of sonic creativity is controversial. Producers, DJs, and record labels spar with dubstep’s strict structural template and aesthetic tradition, all racing to be the first to bring something “new” to the genre while remaining within its boundaries. The pursuit of originality is a noble one. It’s an impulse essential of and inherent to art. But Bisweed reminds us that creativity and musical tradition aren’t mutually exclusive with his masterful Baby EP.
Most of today’s progressive dubstep artists practice production with a decidedly postmodern perspective. In an era when an entire symphony can consist of one lone laptop, electronic music in general tends to turn away from past conventions of instrumental composition. Instead, artists take sampling methods to an extreme: the ability to make music from mundane — and, increasingly, obnoxious — bits of sound is a point of pride for many artists striving for innovation. Bisweed turns this trend on its head in Baby. Rather than relentlessly pushing towards a futuristic sound, Bisweed adopts an approach to composition tinged with classical sensibilities. Many artists incorporate instrumental components in their tracks; however, Bisweed’s embracement of organic instrumentation goes well beyond aesthetic. The musical arrangement on display in these tunes actually mimics that of a traditional ensemble.
In a genre that relies heavily on absurdity, the effect is striking.
In his debut Gourmetbeats release, Bisweed showcases an insane sense of musicality and sonic sophistication. Baby rings with a musicality that is surprising for such a young artist: the Estonian DJ/Producer is only 23 years old, but the appeal of this EP is timeless. By subverting dubstep’s stylistic standards, Bisweed transcends them. While these tracks include immersive, sound system-ready sub-bass, it is far from their defining feature. Attention is drawn deliberately to higher registers, where coherent melodies take the spotlight. The appearance of simplicity is a testament to Bisweed’s impressive grasp on composition: he is not afraid to intertwine complex elements that less advanced producers generally avoid. The result is a listening experience likely to appeal to any audience, even in absence of a proper sound setup. With a lesser emphasis on repetition and comprehensive range of instrumentation, even non-fans of electronic music can appreciate the merits of this music. The young producer’s understated artistry is a refreshing departure. By defying the dramatic flair that characterises many of dubstep’s modern innovations, Bisweed created a release that truly stands apart from the crowd.
Still — Baby and Fay are undeniably dubstep. Aside from adherence to the genre’s structural template, both tunes capture the intimate emotional quality that makes the underground style so special. Baby sounds like its title implies, with a twirling melody that stays in your head just like the person you can’t stop thinking about. Fay is tender and reminiscent, bearing the soft sparkle that lines cherished memories of a lover you haven’t seen in years. And while both tunes have an air of late night cocktails sipped in evening attire, they’d be equally at home in a club or a warehouse, played out as the soundtrack for the dance floor’s most vulnerable state. A hidden track entitled Sunshine is placed between Baby and Fay. Falling at 80 beats per minute, the interlude weaves the featured tunes into one coherent and complete creation.
Aesthetically, Baby may appear to have little in common with the last release on Gourmetbeats, Saule and Malleus’s Bad Kids EP. But Gourmetbeats’ sixth release proves an important moment for the label. Great record labels are built from more than great music alone. Iconic labels possess distinct sonic personalities unique to each imprint. Upon the release of Bisweed’s EP, it is clear that Gourmetbeats has found a voice of its own.
The label’s releases tend to place an emphasis on melody that is unusual given dubstep’s low-end tradition. Likewise, the label is very conscious of the dance floor. Joe Nice’s DJ persona shines through the lighthearted playfulness that dances through the catalogue — a notable departure from dubstep’s signature seriousness. The Bad Kids EP even reveals a slightly less sinister side of spook master Malleus — perhaps coaxed out in concert with Saule. The theme continues throughout Baby.
The placement of Baby between Bad Kids and the forthcoming Los Angeles EP featuring Mesck, Subtle Mind, Introspekt and Oxóssi feels intentional as well. In fact, the progression of the Gourmetbeats catalogue seems to mirror the naturally ebb and flow of a live set, where Bisweed’s tracks serve as a soothing moment of relief between bangers. This quality reflects Joe Nice’s refined selector sense and epitomises the rare charisma that will shape Gourmetbeats’ role in dubstep’s future trajectory.
To celebrate the impending GB006 release, we’ve teamed up with Joe and Bisweed for an extra special FKOF free download. Find it on SoundCloud:
Words by the truly amazing Amye Koziel
Peace, love and respect.