Review Summary: If Will Bevan was the prophet, Paul Rose is a most loyal apostle.
It's a grotesque over-simplification, but broadly speaking, dubstep fans in 2010 can be split into two camps. The first became fans by osmosis; they're clubbers who graduated from ecstacy and cocaine to ketamine and watched the grime and garage they were listening to transform into dubstep over the course of months, at the same clubs they go to. The second is the stay-at-home type, who reads The Wire, downloads as much of the stuff as they can, and then strokes their beard at how interesting
it all is.
It would also be a misleading generalization to suggest that Burial is hated by the former and loved by the latter; certainly, there are plenty of people from both camps who dismiss him as not being part of the genre to begin with, while I've been to clubs and seen "Archangel" get the same kind of rapturous reception as "Midnight Request Line". Yet there's no denying that he, more than anybody, moved the music out of the clubs and into another realm entirely, one two steps removed from the drug culture that gave birth to the genre in the first place. It was a natural progression that would almost certainly have happened anyway (by taking the spooked urban loneliness that underpinned so much of the genre's early music and making it completely obvious to everybody that hadn't spotted it, he effectively did exactly what Mat Weddle did when he covered "Hey Ya!"), but now he's broken the doors down, the genre is only going to move in that direction more and more, and the ravers are going to lose something that, only a few short years ago, was entirely theirs.
So Scuba must be the dubstep club's worst nightmare. He's the first major dubstep artist to appear that is inspired 100% by Burial and 0% by everybody else.
is an album with precisely 0 chest-rattling drops, in a genre where drops are the number-one defining feature. "Before" and especially "Latch" ape the style of tracks like "Distant Lights" so well that it's actualy surprising when the trademark pitch-shifted, heavily EQed vocals don't arrive. Searching for anything beneath the surface that really links this to a Benga or a Caspa or even a Pinch is a fruitless task - this keeps the hardcore, OG fans at arm's length. He only really breaks from Burial's influence when he breaks from dubstep entirely - "On Deck" is so far away from 2-step that it's tempting to start singing Beni Bennasi's "Satisfaction" over the top of it, "Heavy Machinery" is pretty much just a reggae track, and despite a slightly awkward rhythm, I can't help but feel that "You Got Me" would sound more at home on a funky house mixtape than a dubstep one. Otherwise it treats 2006's Burial
as a holy text.
Is that a bad thing? Not really; good music is good music no matter what or who it sounds like, and this is definitely good music. Scuba has a firm, impressive grasp on his atmospherics, and each one of the more distant, ambient tracks is perfectly handled. He manages one grandstand track, too, in the shape of "So You Think You're Special?". This track could become canonical, and it'd deserve it, too - while you can still tell that this is a track by a Burial fan (check some of the "Ghost Hardware"-referencing percussion) the stadium rock drums, the slowly building synths and glitches, and the stuttered, wistful vocals make this a truly unique track, quite unlike anything that has yet come out of the scene. It's another step into crossover territory, perhaps, but it's a seriously excellent way to take that step.
A lot of people have found themselves drawn to dubstep because of its constant evolution; no matter how identikit a lot of the major acts are, there's always something harder, heavier, or more experimental to be found somewhere. If your enjoyment of the genre depends on the thrill of finding those acts, then you're probably going to look down your nose at Triangulation
. Still, that's your loss; I've always been a firm believer that it's better to copy the best and succeed than it is to be completely original and fail. There are literally hundreds of dubstep records around that are more original than this, but how many are this good? Dozens. If that.