Skream
Outside the Box


3.0
good

Review

by Deviant STAFF
August 8th, 2010 | 87 replies | 13,989 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Skream attempts to think outside the box and hits a wall in the process

While you’ll never catch me riding in the same boat as everyone else who heaped massive acclaim over Skream’s (real name Oliver Jones) self titled debut, I’ll forever be aware of the influence it had over its genre. Back when dubstep was all about the sonic boom and the instant hit, here was an album that chose to sneak in the back door, replaced clap happy percussion with sparse compositions and nauseous layerings of bass with a much more organic style. He bought a working man’s vibe with him, an effortless cool that was maintained by his laconic approach, his almost unwillingness to fit in, and his unassuming demeanor. It paved the way for scene riders like Mount Kimbie, James Blake, Joy Orbison – anyone playing around with the idea of “post dubstep”. Hell, even Burial owes him more than just a few pats on the back. Yeah, he had the bangers, but they were scattered few and far between patchy descents into fields of 8-bit and chiptune. It seemed like he was holding back, not wanting to give everything so early, like he was building a career out of promises of what “could have been”, rather than what “came to be”. And yet, strangely, it wasn’t long before he would rectify this; his continuing series of Screamizm E.P’s have proven that when it comes to crunch time Skream can, in fact, deliver the goods.

Dubstep has gone through something of a transformation since Skream’s inception. Moving from a grassroots movement into almost mainstream territory, many of the genre’s flag bearers have already gone the way of crossing over, Rusko’s debut being the first that comes to mind. As underground as Skream would like you to believe that he is, the man must be credited for knowing a good way to spread his gospel. Cue his famed 2009 remix of La Roux’s ‘In the Kill’, a track that precariously balanced the line between scene clinging and pop sheen. And its that tenuous relationship that finds itself splashed all over Skream’s bright and chirpy new album Outside The Box, a deceptive title if ever there was one. At times it’s an uneasy mix, an almost strained pairing with neither side showing signs of being particularly comfortable with its opposing partner. The sad reality is that he doesn’t show enough knack in pulling off either style with full credibility, so instead of tipping the scales in one particular direction the album tends to sit awkwardly in between the two uniquely different styles. It’s a perfect balance so to speak, but in this case that’s just not a good thing.

That doesn’t mean to say that he gets it all wrong though, because Skream is more than capable at crafting absurdly addictive tracks that have the very ability to entrance and captivate like a kind of pied piper of dubstep if you will. ‘I Love the Way’ is pure gold, simple and yet delightfully efficient, with its breakbeat inspired finale sketching out a path across the tracks makeshift gloom and borderline reflective female vocals. Lead single ‘Listenin’ to the Records on My Wall’ rewinds the clock and hits with a wave of jungle nostalgia, coming across as a lost tourist, more at home in rave fields of dusty travelers than a dingy smoke filled club with the city’s traffic as its roof. ‘Wibbler’ is all aggro, intense and visceral, filled to the brim with teeth rattling bass and a propensity to blast cobwebs off of dusty speakers. It’s also the loner, with its closest relation being ‘Reflections’, an intense pairing between Jones and hard hitters dBridge and Instra: mental. Like ‘Wibbler’ it’s a cut that tries for full intrusion, but does so at a much more delicate pace, constantly unfurling and expanding but always making the right steps, putting the right foot forward, never hesitant but courageous and unwavering in its confidence.

But all of these cuts unfold around the halfway mark and onwards, it’s the decidedly dodgy opening moments that warrant the most scrutiny, and the least amount of attention from the listener. Murs is all hot air and gusto in his weak attempt at a call to arms in first full track ‘8-Bit’, a Nintendo like number that is neither harmful nor incredibly important. And ‘CPU’ plays its cards to close to its chest, unable to find a middle ground with which to exist, it stumbles and falters, beginning and ending half-heartedly. Even La Roux’s return to the fold can’t quite bring the magic back; despite their previous accomplishment Jones just seems to get lost in trying to work with her vocal talents.

In trying to smooth out the hard edges of dubstep in an attempt to gain a few extra followers Jones has removed all the necessary ingredients that have proved so potent and vital for a success within the genre. His main problem is that he still tries to retain a giant level of seriousness with his work; whereas Rusko’s recent effort was playful and ripe with sadly under-appreciated tongue in cheek camp-ness, Outside the Box is brutally unrelenting in its desire to be taken legitimately. It’s too straight of a line, with no room to breathe. Despite some mesmerizing highlights Skream hasn’t managed to live up to the hype surrounding this release. And the sad fact of the matter is, for all of this thinking outside the box nonsense that Skream is apparently trying to convince us of, he’s managed to confine and restrict himself quite nicely……go figure.



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user ratings (65)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Bitchfork
August 8th 2010



7584 Comments


Omigosh a review from Jason what is this?

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 8th 2010



31053 Comments


Out in NZ

Listenin' To the Records On My Wall:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJNjB5stBAo
I Love The Way:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMpw1KHM1OI
Reflections:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfjPTejk4bA
Wibbler:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_giikhBm_Q

Digging: Marcel Dettmann - Fabric 77

Bitchfork
August 8th 2010



7584 Comments


You should review moar folk. js.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 8th 2010



31053 Comments


I'll review anything you want on your 18th birthday k

IAJP
August 8th 2010



378 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

8 bit baby is one of the worst songs from this year no doubt, pretty average album like

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 8th 2010



31053 Comments


I honestly don't know why it exists

IAJP
August 8th 2010



378 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

appalling is it not..few tracks like that on here really bog the album down, it would be good were it not for them, because it takes more of a subtle approach to dub-step, compared to what many would have imagined skream to have done.

2muchket!
August 8th 2010



900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this pretty good bar a few really horrible tracks

8 bit baby is fucking atrocious

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 8th 2010



31053 Comments


I don't get why he even chose to make it, let alone having it at the beginning of the album

klap
Staff Reviewer
August 8th 2010



10306 Comments


speaking of dubstep i'll be seeing Excision and Datsik beginning of September. remind me to bring my meathooks and gas mask

Digging: Literature - Chorus

Ponton
Emeritus
August 8th 2010



5787 Comments


review rules, dev

like, I really like how you always put everything in excellent context with the genre, past works, other artists ect

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 8th 2010



31053 Comments


Cheers Jared, always appreciated

Rudy - have you ever listened to any of Ex's mixes?

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 8th 2010



31053 Comments


I also recommend that people check out the video for 'Listenin to the Records On My Wall' - its actually pretty good. I would've linked it here but you have to sign in because of age and I couldn't be arsed making an account yadda yadda yadda

klap
Staff Reviewer
August 8th 2010



10306 Comments


yeah i have a bunch of excision shit. guess i got my swaaaaaaga back

PregnantTeen
August 8th 2010



168 Comments


never really spend much time listening to skream on record but live he is killer

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 8th 2010



31053 Comments


He tends to lose a bit of his spark, like something gets lost in the mix

PregnantTeen
August 8th 2010



168 Comments


saw him with benga, rusko, kryptic minds and others at matter in london a couple of months ago and he was insane, would be hard to put that on record
there's also the whole matter having one of the best speaker systems in the world and me having average speakers and average headphones thing

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 8th 2010



31053 Comments


With the majority of gigs that I've been to, the key ingredient is always spontaneity, changing the beats on a dime etc. I think its hard for any successful dj to bring the same vibe over to an album, especially when they're confined to actual "tracks" if you get what I'm saying

PregnantTeen
August 8th 2010



168 Comments


absolutely

klap
Staff Reviewer
August 8th 2010



10306 Comments


i don't think i've ever heard a DJ record that can match up to their average live show



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