Inyoka’s Gourmetbeats EP is decidedly not a political record. It’s a dubstep record. Still, music doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and, in the context of current affairs at the time of the release, it’s difficult not to imagine the minimal, melancholy masterpiece as an antidote to present political panic. In an era when socioeconomic stratification, cultural conflicts, and ideological tension drive unprecedented divisions in worldwide communities, Inyoka’s de-politicised emotional outburst reminds us of the basic, underlying humanity we share.
The solo release from the Virginia, USA- based musician marks the ninth release on the Gourmetbeats catalogue, and the ninth American artist represented on the imprint. Artists from Estonia, Netherlands and the UK also appear in the label’s credits. The divergence from dubstep’s strictly-UK tradition is relevant as more than a redemption for America’s spoilt reputation with the sound. The geographically diverse discography also serves as an argument for globalisation’s silver lining.
Like most of the artists appearing on the the Gourmetbeats catalogue, Inyoka doesn’t exactly qualify as a “new” or “emerging” producer. Rather, until recently, the experienced musician has managed to fly under the scene’s radar: Inyoka contributed to a number of releases in 2016, including a Bandcamp purge of previously unreleased material from the late 2000’s. The retrospective collection confirms what the musical maturity of his Gourmetbeats EP implies. Inyoka has been at this for awhile.
Inyoka’s GB009 is impressive for its simplicity and coherence. The record plays out as an immersive soundsystem lullaby, separated into four distinct but audibly related tracks. It is also a testament to the monolithic potential of minimalism. The EP is composed by manipulations of a basic set of sounds, warped and re-arranged in each track to create a range of sonic and emotional effects. The intuitive flow of “bass and beats” is deceptively complex. Both the compositional value and voluminous richness that characterise the musicality of the EP point to Inyoka’s thoughtful artistic sophistication.
The release begins with a VIP of Echidna, the first track on Inyoka’s collaborative EP with Korin Complex featured on Silent Motion Records in October. Echidna VIP immediately sets the mood for the release, introducing a palette of elements recurring throughout the tracks that follow: a vocal utterance (here, feminine) that shifts in tone and gender in LIA then Program, reflecting the shifting vibe of the tunes with it; a mid-range accent that imitates a spider web’s elusive shimmer here — in LIA it has the urgency of an alarm; soft, brushing percussions assume an understated place in Echidna VIP. Submerged by the EP’s defining layers of thick, comforting bass, the minimal element creates an underwater-esque effect.
Even over headphones or home-studio monitors, the fullness and warmth of the EP’s signature soothing sub-bass offers the sonic embrace generally reserved for sound systems. The maternal low-end anchors the release’s musical focus and ensuing emotional resonance. Marked by its somber disposition, the EP is also a stunning display of sonic storytelling. Following the sense of longing articulated in LIA is the subtle, yet surprising transition signified by the unique mid-range emphasis of Program.
To borrow from storytelling terminology, Program represents the climax of Inyoka’s EP. Peregrine — which imitates the sparkling quality of its title — is the denouement, or resolution. Through its punching bassline and prevalent percussional intensity, the final track emanates quiet optimism. It’s a satisfying conclusion to the EP, and more than any other track in the collection, Peregrine reflects the dance floor’s carnal energy.
Inyoka’s soothing style contradicts every aesthetic stereotype associated with dubstep: his sound is somber and soulful but not sinister, as in the “dungeon” tradition, and it certainly carries no resemblance to maximalist commercial renditions. Like every artist and release from the Gourmetbeats catalogue, Inyoka reveals a fresh imagination of the 140 template. He shows us once again that musical innovation doesn’t demand the rejection of genre conventions — only technical prowess and a creative impulse to re-interpret genre confines.
Juxtaposed with the last Gourmetbeats release — EshOne’s Elk EP — Inyoka’s release paints a perceptive illustration of dubstep’s stylistic capacity. Where tracks like Teleport are abrasive and aggressive, Inyoka’s tracks are pensive and sweet. The discrepancy is a poignant metaphor for dubstep’s resonant power. It explains the genre’s unusually involved fan base, too: we relate to dubstep intimately because it sounds exactly how we feel. It gets us, on a personal level.
It gets us on a collective level, too. More than ever since the genre’s inception, dubstep’s dark disposition captures the mood of global civilisation. Dubstep doesn’t sugarcoat the sense of dread we experience as technological advancements and global connectivity alert us to every persistent threat to humanity prevalent in every pocket of the world. The aesthetic encourages awareness, not escapism. It reminds us of the depressed state of society, and whispers suggestions of apocalyptic directions. Dubstep tears open our hearts and minds, leaves us vulnerable, raw. And then, through artists like Inyoka, it swoops in again to offer solace.
The Inyoka EP is available now from Gourmetbeats physically and digitally via a plethora of independent music platforms. Stay locked to the label for news on GB010 featuring DubDiggerz.
Peace, love and respect.