There is nothing quite like discovering a new musician in a mixtape. Sandwiched between familiar tracks, this quick glimpse of a previously unknown talent is exhilarating. Recently, I experienced this while listening to the second half of the Luvstep 2 mix, with a track called “Eastbound.”
The artist behind this slice of luvstep, with its barely-there beat, purple synths, and fragmented moans, is Gladkill. The New York DJ is the type of producer I used to feature when this column was still called Dubstep Dossier. Gladkill’s music falls in the dubstep-bass-glitch space popularized by the Bristol scene. But while that type of music has become derivative and exceedingly unpleasant, Gladkill has stuck to his guns, infusing his tracks with a strong sense of melody.
Last year’s Ghostwork EP is a perfect example of this, with melodies that range from dreamlike (“Lucky Me”) to romantic (“That Girl is Trouble”) to haunting (“Memories”). For fans of subtle applications of midrange wobble, any of the six tracks on Ghostwork will do the trick. The mood is chilled out, but with a current of energy that prevents the music from becoming ambient.
That current has been amplified on Gladkill’s latest EP, LoveLost. As the title suggests, this is a melancholy affair, but with the optimism and hope of someone coming out of a depression. Compared to Ghostwork, everything sounds bigger, from the synths on “Statis” to the bass of “Out of Your Comfort.” A highlight is the grower “Just a Thought,” which gently echoes along before revealing a layered finale.
Gladkill’s music is luvstep at its finest, capturing the contrast between bass-heavy dubstep and the more melodic side of electronic exploration. Discovering it on Luvstep 2 was more than just luck.