Digital Mystikz Digital MystikzReturn II Space
Dubstep has stopped being dubstep and started being something else. When using the label one has to be careful, because what is said could mean something that is not what one meant to say; speaking of “post-dubstep” is a trap, gibberish, because post-dubstep is still the evolution of a genre, the enrichment of it with contributions from other sources –garage, liquid techno, chiptune, funky percussion, psychedelic processes, new age, whatever– without the basis ever being watered down. Like those thin crust pizzas, the fact that there’s hardly any dough and all the more cheese or pepperoni doesn’t mean the dough isn’t essential. Ergo, dubstep has transformed into that literary figure we know as synecdoche: a part to signify the whole. It’s a bastard sound, contaminated, displaced from its own axis in search of a new orbit, and only on some very specific occasions one can speak of it without periphrasis, without having to do a semantic rodeo. One of these is when one talks about Digital Mystikz, where one can be certain that the word dubstep means just that, like an uncut drug.
In the past three years most producers have worked hard to expand their limits –and, like an expanding balloon or the universe, they ended up deforming and moving away from the starting point. Few have sought to go in the opposite direction: to expand from within, investigate the winding paths of the sound, to test the limits under the tyranny of some rigid and unbreakable rules. One of them, Mark Lawrence, alias Mala, the authentic conservator of the dubstep spirit as it was conceived in South London: suffocating, that sound that appears to wrap you in but actually squeezes you like a python, commanded by a warrior bass and surrounded by a horrific echo, like a black hole that has its vortex in the entrance of your ear. We’re not going to sum up his CV right now, because both the DMZ club -later turned into this label- and his alliance with Coki in Digital Mystikz and his solo work on the Deep Medi imprint would offer enough to fill a book, not just a paragraph. But it isimportant to indicate here that a CV written in gold is not a static one suspended in a pool of water, and that “Return II Space” is one of the most brilliant chapters of London club music, for it is the proof that dubstep -at its most intransigent, without altering its genetic code- is still a sound capable of arm-wrestling with the future. It’s true that the scene, what’s left of it (as can be heard of on releases by Punch Drunk, Tectonic or Dub Police), has not much more to give, that its cycle is coming to an end, but that’s an axiom Mala doesn’t accept, because he still has some cards to play in this game.
The six tracks of “Return II Space” –released exclusively on super heavyweight triple vinyl: the gatefold sleeve showing a photo of the broad sidereal space- are the best cuts dubstep has offered since it started to transform like Gregor Samsa in Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”, and who knows if they’re the last such tracks, the end of the line. We don’t know that of course, but the open ending leaves this object -that floods the room at first contact with the needle like the explosion of a supernova- as the perfect ending of a cycle or as the last heroic act in the last instant of a fratricidal battle of life and death. There is purification, precision, perspective and loyalty to the traditional resources: the Jamaican-style cadence on “Unexpected”, the insistent arpeggio and cosmic detail on the extraordinary “Pop Pop Epic”, the toxic undercurrent on “Mountain Dread March”, the collision of furious basslines and friendly breaks –like subatomic particles in the CERN accelerator– to liberate the energy of “Eyez”, the downtempo pause on “Livin’ Different”, the final line-up of basslines like furious, untamed nervousness sentries on “Return II Space”. Now that even Skream has turned to pop in a dubious commercial crossover, a record like this –reference numbers 15, 16 and 17 of DMZ in one package- is absolutely necessary, for it shows that not everything goes and that even apparently exploded ideas can still trigger a big bang. Javier Blánquez "Return II Space"