Varios VariosScientist Launches Dubstep Into Outer Space
In space, nobody can hear your screams, and Ellen Ripley knows it. Hopetown Brown, aka Scientist, does as well. Let no-one underestimate the power of weed, because for thirty years, Dub Vader has been strangling his enemies from a distance from behind his mixing deck. The man is a legend in his field, pioneer with a capital P of the Jamaican school of the eighties. Not in vain did he earn his education at the mythical Dromilly Road studio in Kingston, owned by King Tubby. It’s impossible to imagine a better school to learn the tricks of this cannabis-laced trade. With more than 20 records to his name –some of them classics of the genre–, an almost sacred devotion among his contemporaries, and unconditional canonisation by the new cats of dubstep confirming the aura of divinity that this bass prophet has earned himself.
The passion for Scientist’s stuff among the new recruits is no joke. Proof of this is that the irreproachable Tectonic imprint, property of Pinch, has decided to send him a telegram from Bristol to invite him to a black magic ritual that would make the ancient pillars of Stonehenge tremble. All the big fish are invited and Brown is the Aleister Crowley of the occasion. In other words, this double CD is one of the most monumental and complete reunion yours truly can remember on the dark moors of the new misty electronica. It’s like building a bridge between classic dub and the new school of dubstep, like joining two faces of the same coin; past and present turned into future with the best priest and most devout parishioners one could imagine.The premise is simple: take 12 unreleased pieces from the main heralds of the dubstep scene, press them on one record for the delight of the people and give Scientist the masters so that he can work his Jamaican magic on them and sign the work like a Picasso of bass. Double luxury. Furthermore, this record is a statement, a necessary back to basics. In a time when the pure forms of dubstep have mutated into all kinds of new silhouettes, it’s no hardship to remember the genome that defines the genre, i.e. the experimental work done by the boldest Jamaican producers during the 70s and 80s.
Let’s step into the cloud and let the marijuana do its work. On the first CD we find tracks by Kode9 & The Spaceape, King Midas Sound, Shackleton, Pinch and Mala amonstg others. The stand out tune is Guido’s “Korg Back”: saturated bass drum, otherworldly synthesisers, piano riffs, razor sharp claps. I admit, this track obsesses me. As does “Re-Up”, a brutal Joker & Ginz track with violins, dizzying interferences, GameBoy shots straight into the veins and a crushing beat. Top notch shit.
But the real gem is the Scientist CD: a radical and fascinating deconstruction of the 12 originals. The Jamaican takes no prisoners and reduces the tracks to subatomic particles, applying his complete arsenal of tricks: reverb, echoes, smokers’ effect, filters, narcotic samples, rhythm boxes that superimpose themselves like the pieces of a ghostly Tetris. The percussion –metallic, snake-like, spectral– becomes the background of an abrasive lesson in minimalism made in Kingston. Brown’s virtue is that he shows only the backbone of the track and makes it sound beautiful. His control of the bass, his complex rhythmic twists and his mastery of the studio allow him to crush the songs, reducing them to blocks of spatial scrap iron, as if they were cars in a scrap yard. The effects are narcotic, you only have to close your eyes for the music to trap you in its coarse simplicity. It’s dub distilled in age-old oak barrels, the work of a craftsman that needs little to achieve a lot. Even the sleeve, evoking the records released by Greensleeves Records in the eighties, is spot on in an effort that borders on perfection down to the smallest details. “I drop science like Scientist”: Rakim, you couldn’t have been more right.
Shackleton - Hackney MarshesKode 9 & Spaceape -Abeng