In an essay in The Village Voice 15 years ago, Simon Reynolds poetically described the proliferation and divergence of the nascent post-rock genre away from “rock’s grand narrative” into a “delta of microcultures.” The same metaphor might be used nowadays to describe the rapid evolution of dubstep. After the river banks were breached in the first big wave from Croydon and Bristol, dubstep has now spread into a myriad of imperceptibly subtle microgenres or tributaries, saturating the terrain between dub, techno, ambient and even itself. The name dubstep is now almost a useless throwback to that first wave, no longer useful for accurate orientation.
F’s Energy Distortion is no exception to the complications of classification. You will find plenty of dubstep skank, sub bass and a strong emphasis on the third beat of every bar, but there isn’t really a straight-up dubstep track on the album except for perhaps the loafing tribalism of “Chillin’” and the optimistic dawn of “Shift.” The majority of tunes are instead built like floating and twisting mobiles suspended from intricate percussive sculptures that at times emphasise the kick drum techno-style, or, alternatively, dig out the bass and smear on the hi-hats for a more rolling finish. In the end, the results are rarely easy to define. “Perspectives” and the frantic sprawl of the title track are two examples of the more techno-driven sound, but it is the slipperiness of the exceptions like “Poka”—which works big beats in a sparse vacuum flavoured with silvery techno chords—that really stand out.
Similarly, the best moments of the album are often chimeras of drum & bass and other genres. “0907″ is sparse, but it has the gruff, dogged persistence and veiled aggression of drum & bass, whereas the heavy pressure of “See the Light” shines darkly over some classic bass warble. “On the Corner,” too, has moments and samples that hark back to the golden era of the genre, but at the same time, is an unclassifiable hybrid.
Energy Distortion is held together by F’s strong compositional sense. He doesn’t wear out his riffs, keeping things fresh from beginning to end. Perhaps the only minor criticism might be the lack of deep head space to take away the emphasis of the beats. The flow of Energy Distortion is clearly built with dance floor dynamics in mind. Which dance floor is anybody’s guess, but since it works so well, it’s hard to care what you might call it.
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Label / 7even Recordings
Cat # / 7EVENCD01
Released / spring 2010
Style / Dubstep, Techno
quality: 320 kbps stereo
Tracklist: F – Energy Distortion
04. Energy Distortion
05. Another Place
07. See the Light
10. On the Corner
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