Review Summary: feeling only what hearts can feel
Early in 2007, London based producer V.I.V.E.K began going public with his music, having spent the better part of a decade refining his craft. He had been raised on the jungle and dub of the 1990s, and originally began his career as a producer of drum and bass. However, he only really began to take things seriously as a producer when he was properly introduced to artists like Silkie and Quest, who were beginning to gain notoriety with dubstep’s sharp rise in popularity (thanks to highly regarded releases by artists such as Skream and Benga). He made the switch into the world of 140 BPM and eventually some of his tunes ended up in the right hands, those of legendary producer Mala - and the rest is history. For the next five years, V.I.V.E.K released most of his music on Mala’s Deep Medi label, and it is during this period that he truly began to perfect his unique brand of deep, brooding dubstep.
About a year ago, V.I.V.E.K decided to make another crucial step in the process of perfecting his sound: he opened his own venue. Situated in North London, System is somewhat of an institution in London’s thriving bass music scene, and it has become the dubstep dance of choice for most Londoners. Opening this venue allowed V.I.V.E.K to customize his sound in a way that other producers could only dream of; he could now construct his sound from the vision in his head, all the way through to the actual sound pulsating from his very own speakers. It was a dream that he had been pursuing for a while, and his motivation was something that most producers can relate to: “ The motivation was really to start my own thing. It was a pipe dream for my best friend and [me]. We always wanted to build our own sound system. This was before dubstep, before I was involved with anyone. I wanted to build sound.
Recently, V.I.V.E.K seems to have had a falling out with his labelmates over at Deep Medi, specifically Mala, the godfather himself. Now, unlike their American counterparts, producers in the UK tend to not turn into petty toddlers and broadcast their personal issues to the public, so the true nature of the spat remains somewhat of a mystery. The only thing important to take from this situation is that V.I.V.E.K could now take the final step in his overall goal of building sound: creating his own label. Asteroids/Over My Head
is the premier release from System Music, and it is sure to go down in dubstep history as a monumental one. “Asteroids” is a track that represents his body of work more than any other single song he has produced, and it has been a heavily sought after dubplate for a while. It makes use of V.I.V.E.K’s distinct dark and menacing atmosphere and includes the sort of pulsating sub-bass that could destroy any dance-floor in the world. An alternate version was recorded, with guest vocals by Mel Dymond. Her creepy, echoed vocals really worked well with the original song and created a uniquely emotional piece of dubstep. This version, titled “Over My Head,” quickly became something of a flagship song for the scene, at least in terms of mainstream exposure, as it began being used for festival trailers, live music videos, and the like. For a while, the purists were fearing that the original version would be forgotten next to the immensely popular “Over my Head,” but V.I.V.E.K is not a man to disappoint his fanbase.
Having finally realized his dream in full: a customized sound system to play his tunes on, and a label of his own to release his work under, V.I.V.E.K used the opportunity to release something special with SYSTM001. Appealing casual and devoted fans alike, the first ever release on System Music contains both versions of the massive tune. Also included is a remix by Om Unit, who takes great care to keep the aesthetics of the original track intact while adding something of a deep house vibe to it and a different rhythmic structure. Overall this release is notable for its indescribable ability to combine pulsing bass tones with lush reverb and raw emotion, all the while fostering a groove that is deep, minimal, and endlessly engrossing. It is powerful like nearly nothing else you are likely to hear within the world of UK bass music, but in a way that is inviting and immensely gratifying. (Good) dubstep has always been measured by its ability to move through the listener in indescribable ways, and this release certainly does that. It offers a truly mesmerizing and one-of-a-kind sound. It’s the culmination of all of V.I.V.E.K’s years of hard work and sound-sculpting.
Dubstep’s popularity over the years has waxed and waned (more than once), leaving many critics to submit ridiculous claims about the death of the genre. Don’t go telling any of this to V.I.V.E.K though, because his newest release quickly kills those ridiculous notions. The genre has been evolving over the past few years in such a way that it is creating a group of producers dedicated to using the roots of the sound in a forward-thinking way, one that combines familiar structure with deep, dark aesthetics. These are truly wonderful times for fans of dubstep, and the future continues to look bright. Will it always be this way? Or course not. But for now, we have SYSTM001, which is sure to go down in history as a classic: the perfect representation of a thriving music scene.