Is dubstep is the new punk – the most groundbreaking music of the day?
John Robb ponders…
Check this brilliant new dubstep producer from Manchester
A couple of years ago I was in a dubstep club and was invited onto the stage were the DJ was hammering some great heavy tunes.
The MC was rocking it on the mic and I was instantly struck by the familiarity of it all. The packed crowd were bunched up stage front like a mosh pit, the MC was barking and shouting with the pure mania of adrenalised performance and the beats were fast and heavy- fuck me I thought- it was like being on stage at a punk/hardcore gig- the same dynamic, the same sense of community, the same all consuming avalanche of thrilling sound. What’s important here though is that it’s not the sound we are talking about but the spirit and the sense of too hell with everything creativity. This is the cutting edge- the edge of the universe and no-one knows what is next…
Dubstep and punk/hardcore have many parallels, they have many of the same fans for a start, and they also have the same sense of underground, the same sense of fierce dedication to the music.
They are popular and influential outsider musics- unplaced on so called ”Ëalternative’ radio stations- radio stations where alternative is permanently jammed into the world of jangly indie pop released on pretend indie labels set up by major labels.
Dubstep and punk/hardcore rely on speed and ideas and dubstep, like punk, is in love with the heavy bottom end of dub reggae. Many dubsteppers I have met have their roots in hardcore punk and are in love with both scenes but they enjoy the freedom of dubstep and its no barriers no frontiers attitude and that is maybe where both forms differ.
Like the opening chords of ‘Anarchy’ caught the mood of decaying UK in 1976, or Jimi Hendrix’s guitar rush sounds like late sixties napalm, dusbtep’s signature big wobbly bass line and dark atmospherics really capture the mood of these uncertain times.
Punk has become hidebound to rules and dubstep is wide open. Anything goes. And when anything goes music is perfect. This is a sonic wild west. With no gatekeepers and it’s beginning to breal onto the fringes of the mainstream.
And this could be where dubstep, the only modern music could be in trouble. It’s success has seen it impinge on the real world with every clueless popstar looking for some underground cred has got a dubstep mix going on.
This is great news for the producers and mixers. Afterall everyone deserves a pay day. But it could spell the end of the musical form as it becomes some handy beats for Britney Spear’s disembowelled, sampled and autotuned voice to warble over.
Of course it could even escape this by being so fluid a form that it has already moved somewhere else.
Dubstep can do this because it’s the only true modern music. It doesn’t have any discernible tradition and its not bogged down in retro yet. It is a shape shifting, elastic musical force with its own rules and its own arguments and it exists beyond the media and the business in its own world.
Perhaps the only modern music.