Review Summary: Where 2562 attempts to glue dubstep's fractured identity back together
Back when dubstep first emerged out of the dying remnants of garage, no one could have predicted not only the staggering quickness with which it would take shape, but just how faceless and almost unrecognizable it would eventually become. Today the genre lies broken, not defeated, but smashed into varying shards and pieces that have splintered off from the main body and formed mutant strains of their own. Now seen as more of a banner than something hastily defined, it shelters various exploits that have formed around some of the most unconventional ideals. The controversial tag of future garage still falls under dubstep’s constantly stretching shadow, its sound bolstered by artists moving exponentially further away from dubstep’s more grime filled stigma. And even though the notion of dubstep fusing itself with a more minimal strain of house is seen as something wholly unique Burial toyed with the idea waaaay back in 2007. To include the likes of Excision with someone more-down-in-the-rough-of-it like Scuba you have to understand that dubstep is no longer the simple tag it once was, it’s taken the idea that many of its artists have gone for and rendered itself faceless and immune from easy interpretation. And while the task of separating who from what is easier than some would like to think (that is of course, if you feel the need to do such things) there’s always someone like Dave Huismans to make that job infinitely harder.
More commonly known by his recording moniker of 2562, the Dutch native Huismans has, in a relatively short space of time, attempted to integrate every one of these various motifs into his own work. Over the course of two previous LPs he’s covered the darker and more cerebral stuff (Aerial
), and then fused that with the now popular garage revival in an attempt to inject a little mischief into his murky depths (09’s Unbalance
, arriving just in time, has its eyes set squarely on just-down-the-lane club life, its ultimate goal to cross from the dingy underground to middle of the road strobe lights and beaming party floors. Its destiny however lies in not only how effective 2562 will be in the musical exchange, but how amicable and accessible he’ll be able to make it.
In order to set himself up for a hopeful acceptance Dave has done exactly what the album cover shows us (and for all we know, that little tyke could very well be 2562 himself). He’s reached into the dusty catacombs of the last 30 years, snatched up a few dusty old records, given them a wipe, and then ripped them to shreds. What might not become apparent on the first few listens through (or, even at all without any prior knowledge) is that the foundations of Fever
are comprised from slightly golden disco samples, each one meticulously deconstructed to the point where they’ve assumed another persona entirely. You’ll be hard pressed to uncover any resemblance between something as hostile as this and say, Donna Summer, but the connections exist, even as elusive as 2562 has tried to made them. Perhaps Huismans’ greatest gift as a producer is that he hasn’t merely borrowed and then formed something around the stolen idea, the samples seemingly move of their own accord, taking on glorious new shapes and sounds in the process. They transform almost unconsciously, bending to Huismans’ will, sketching out brand new identities on 2562’s canvas. Which is why you get the vague sense you’ve heard all this before. It’s all a little familiar, almost like deja vu. You’ve been here before, only the here looks decidedly different than before.
There’s a lot of haunted house to be had here, a lot of dusty and scratchy melodies dispersed with a kind of expectant glee over the mass of indelible beats. But before we get all of that, and before Huismans attempts to hide his aged recordings we get ‘Winamp Destruction’. Instead of throwing everything he has at his disposal to mask the album’s influences we get a demonstration in more cut-and-paste techniques, with reversed brass sections and fidgety percussion assimilating themselves like a destroy to rebuild scenario. It plays out like an old school breaks track might begin, early 90’s breakcore slipping comfortably over the top of late 80’s DIY hip hop. He follows this up with the tandem duo of ‘Cheater’ and ‘Juxtapose’, both tracks flirting with various permutations of house and Detroit techno, each number casually releasing bursts of pure energy over the reverberating synths.
It’s on tracks like ‘Aquatic Family Affair’ and ‘Brasil Deadwalker’ where 2562’s scattershot evolution begins to fully take shape, both not highly original with their scene lingering but handled with such a delicate touch that they almost float under their own propulsion. The two are polar opposites in a sense with the former delicately unfolding itself over the blur of cascading synths while ‘Deadwalker’ injects a little sinister raveboy into the mix, opting for those grungy and dirty keys to stab their way over the bassline. It’s not all high tempo and spinning lights the whole way through though, with both ‘Intermission’ (strangely not an intermission at all) and ‘Flavour Park’ settling down in a glitchy tangle of dubstep grit and buried melodies. ‘Final Frenzy’ boasts a soundsystem reminiscent of Huismans’ side project A Made Up Sound with its no frills acid drenched house. Strangely though, he almost resorts back to his old ways on the closing tracks. ‘Wasteland’ and the title track are both exercises in controlled chaos, that liquid but still solid wall of noise constantly shimmering just beyond the percussion. They both march to a regimented rhythm, the click of the snares meticulous and rigid, off-shooting the more laconic swirls of noise that orbit them.
The overall point here is that Fever
is a very mixed bag. Not in terms of quality, but sound
. Casual listeners may find little to get excited about here, but Huisman continues his usual tricks of hiding twists and turns in amongst the tumbling stream of noise. It’s another reason to look forward to genre that has no clear path in front of it, another notch in the belt of dubstep’s complex identity. 2562 represents the in-between of the genre, still holding on while his legs dangle over the precipice that overlooks the unknown. This makes him an interesting person to comment on in respects to the genre, mainly because he revels in the reactions of a sound that tries to hide its true colors. Or maybe he’s just restless, because Fever
is an album truly on the move.