Review Summary: And now for something a little more nasty...
Even though the average joker might be quick to inform you that dubstep is some kind of ill-advised trend already destined to go the way of the dodo (even before the likes of Magnetic Man and even pop culture travesties like Britney Spears bastardize it into an early grave), the reality is very simple: dubstep has been around since the turn of the century, and it is here to stay. Starting off as a grass roots movement borne from a fusion of dub and 2-step garage, the genre quickly took form through the pioneering efforts of artists like El-B, Kode9 and the DMZ crew. And as with every genre formed from the remnants of others, there of course exists two very distinct styles. At one end you have the artists pouring away over the tepid minimalism of more atmospheric and sparse compositions that form the makeup for their futuristic dub hybrids, all smokey and skunked out, everything laced with potent drops and wall of sound bass. And at the other end there's the producers who gravitate more to the garage end of the spectrum, their cuts more upbeat and immediate. Offbeat and abstract anti-dance anthems, their battle cry's are a collage of spliced and diced samples, cut and paste wholesale to create a sense of familiarity amidst the trademark sterile coldness that infuses every joint. Now a comparison to the bastard genre of metalcore is not out of reach here, both are indebted to their more famous parents, both relying on the former's successes in hopes of obtaining their own.
And also like metalcore, both genre's have seen a new generation emerge in the ensuing popularity, both parties like-minded in the concept of taking one positive dynamic from their influences and turning that into a main drawing point. While it goes without saying that metalcore's recent travesty into turning the hardcore concept of a breakdown into a money making enterprise is almost well known to all, dubstep's is a little more mysterious. Be it for better of worse, dub's unique bass underpinnings have now been dragged forward, spruced up, bent out of shape and twisted into every possible angle and design and called something unique. Now, while just about every artist within the scene not worth knowing about has taken that notion and simply transformed it into little more than an unbearable constant hum, there are still some out there thinking just a little outside the square. One such artist is Alex Melia, more commonly known to the world by his producer moniker of Reso. For lack of a better word, Reso is a restless man. You can hear it in his music, the constant shift in styles, the unpredictable changes in tempo and the seemingly random fills that pop out of nowhere and cut through the dense fury. Melia has been guaranteed success almost from the word go, and even if that had not been the case, the swag tip of last year's jaw dropping 'Technetium' would have seen to that. You see, Alex isn't riding a gimmick, or just giving the masses indistinguishable noise. For all the the violence and the sickening drops that mark his tunes, there's an obvious perfectionist hiding in the details. He deftly mixes in staggering drum and bass elements into his craft, tying it all down with an almost breakbeat like fervency and a passion for untamed yet accessible catchiness.
marks his third ep proper, and a taster for a rumored soon to be dropped lp. And even if a long player doesn't emerge anytime soon, there's plenty on offer within these three tracks (four on the original pressing) to keep anyone more than excited (or is that sedated"). He wastes no time in laying his previous endeavors to waste with 'War Machine', quite possibly the nastiest track of his short career. The track is a blitzkrieg of sound manipulation, bass pushed to a distorted breaking point, and the drums literally falling over themselves in a deafening clamor. There's an overwhelming drive and push hiding in the the thick murky wobble, his wordless anthem rendering every top 40 hopeful with a penchant for drops toothless and completely unnecessary. His now trademark shifting dynamics return in full force towards the end of the track, as the percussion constantly pulls back, cracking the bass wide open over the gap. He chills everything down with the skanky 'Aethra' though, as he merges the hiss and crackle of vinyl with subtle clicks and slow rises across the keys. Breathless vocals silhouette the backdrop, held back by the ominous wobbles constantly lurking in the background. 'Expansion Ratio' cranks things up a notch, as Reso moves into more Rustie imitations, destroying his retro Casio loops with diabolical tweaks and delays. His pitched keys bend in and out of time with the beat, creating a off-kilter and glitchy sway, not to dissimilar to something that Slugabed or Ghost Mutt might put out in one of their more catastrophic excursions. The bonus track (again, present on the original pressing, now a digital bonus download) 'Syndicate' closes out the ep with a dive into more retro drum & bass waters. The song plays out like a Photek dream, with Reso's trademark muffled bass constantly trying to override the toppling and constantly shuffling percussion; in all seriousness it's a BIG tune, the kind they used to rave about way back when.
Reso's war declaration is enough to rattle even the most hardened dubstep fan, and there simply isn't anything here bordering on repetitive or uninspired. Four tracks, and yet Melia's schizophrenic nature allows for so much to be accomplished, so many varying styles to work their way in for that short period of time. Should an lp be right around the corner, then Reso is going to turn a lot of heads and quite possibly become a household name. But then again, Valken
should do the same. There's a word of warning that accompanied the promo for this: a record not for the faint-hearted
. Proceed with caution, and wobble with care.