Audioccult Vol. 81: The Dubstep Stigmata
Light a candle. Draw the required sigils. Now, raise your arms above your head and slowly, gently, exhale your soul. You won’t need it here. This is Audioccult, and it’s time to get low. Illustration: SHALTMIRA
Few things are more comforting ‘pon a chilly autumnal eve than a warm cup of good English & an X-File on in the background. My ears certainly need a break from my headphones; despite a few low points the last week (apparently “Nick Blinko’s cover art for Salò’s’ Procne EP is really inspiring my thought process lately” is not an acceptable addition for your CV) I’ve been fairly fucking upbeat from all of the wonderful music that has been finding its way into my life. The new releases from Nguzunguzu, Death Grips, Azar Swan, ERAAS, and Kerridge . But there’s one that I think is worth devoting this edition of my column to—not just because the music itself is great, but because it showcases just how far the artist—that would be Johnny Love, AKA Deathface— has come since his early work.
At least in dance circles, Love is probably best know for his Trouble & Bass EP Fall of Man and its New Order-sampling rager “Bloodrave“. That’s certainly how I first discovered him. Fall of Man‘s filthy dubstep grinds and hardcore-inspired vocals were instrumental in helping form the aural shape of PURGE, the first party I ever did with my partners in Berlin. Dance purists, however, are not overly fond of Americans touching dubstep, and what might contextually be seen as industrial thrash-punk by one pair of ears could also be perceived as overly-aggressive bro-rave by those with more subtle taste. I myself like the nastier, less club-friendly mutations of dubstep. There’s also some damn good underground groups contorting the genre to fit their own misshapen forms, But whatever you think of his earlier work, his nineteen-track album Cry For Black Dawn is more grave than rave. Some of the hardcore elements Love expanded on with last year’s From Beneath EP are intact, but the industrial influences are clearer than ever, and come in flavors classic—samples of pig squeals, minimal EBM, a fantastic cover of “Warm Leatherette”—and contemporary, from rattling trap snares to digital hardcore. Like the recent CREEP debut Echoes, there’s a bevy of guest vocalists who each bring something unique to their track, including LIL INTERNET, Tamara Sky, Heartsrevolution, and (my favorite, duh) Pictureplane. It’s also, Love says, extremely difficult to shop around to labels thanks to the stigma that dubstep has developed. “I’ve had multiple people—including one today who I sent my record to—tell me ‘It’s all dubstep’ or ‘This is hard satanic shit.’ You can tell they didn’t even listen to the record.”
For all the darq bros out there with a fever for the flavor of fresh new industrial that displays its various, multi-generational influences proudly and well, Cry For Black Dawn is going to be an essential release. If you’re a regular reader of this column, I highly recommend you check out this album when it comes out because you will almost certainly love it. Legalize dapping in goth clubs. ~
Published November 15, 2013. Words by Daniel Jones.