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REVIEW: SCIENTIST LAUNCHES DUBSTEP INTO OUTER SPACE

Scientist/Various
Scientist Launches Dubstep Into Outer Space
Tectonic

It seems a relatively obvious connection, getting one of dub’s leading pioneers to remix a range of dubstep tracks, and it is certainly the case that Tectonic have made a link that proves intriguing. Dubstep’s debt to the sonic tenacity of its nominal predecessor has been fairly apparent; not only in the music, but also in the rhetoric of individuals such as Kode 9, for whom the concept of music as some form of  mutating viral strain echoes dub’s constant re-framing of its source material. How much of this is apparent in Scientist Launches… is somewhat debatable. The inherent flaw with the mix is that the audio trademarks of dub, its use of spatial echo and repetition of key musical and vocal phrases, are already present in the original tracks. Where as a dub of a reggae instrumental stripped out and reconfigured the original, these versions only serve to extenuate features already there. Whether or not that warrants an successful mix or not is really dependent on the listener’s preference for the originals.

The song selection itself is fairly eclectic; King Midas SoundShackleton and Loefah all figure, as do some less familiar names. On the whole the tracks compliment one another, and Scientist has done an excellent job of stitching the components together. It is interesting that his application of delay on the triple-step beats serves to up the ante, giving songs such as Pinch’s 2012 dub a heightened sense of paranoid anxiety. Tectonic have done the listener a great service by supplying the original tracks on a separate disc, allowing the curious to make direct comparisons without having to go to any additional trouble. It does have the misfortune side-effect of highlighting where some of the detail of the original tracks has been lost, for example Armour’s bass frequencies are relocated from a gloriously subterranean wobble to a fringe concern on the dub of The Long Way. Despite these flaws, it is hard to criticise the album as whole. As a conceptual project it achieves what it sets out to do, engaging with the tradition that spawned elements of Dubstep. It is just unfortunate that the title implies that the comparatively younger genre could have been pushed into the interstellar by its elder statesman guide, whilst the mix itself remains decidedly earthbound.

Andrew Spragg

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