Tag Archives: luvstep

Have yourself a bass-filled Valentine's Day

Whether or not you celebrate the aggrandized Hallmark holiday that is Valentine’s Day, enjoy these romantic mixes from some of the finest producers in the bass music world.

First up is the latest installment of Luvstep, by Dirty South Joe and Flufftronix. The previous Luvstep mixes have perfectly encapsulated the leading edge of romantic, melodramatic dubstep, a standard this mix meets. Tracks by Clams Casino, Sinjin Hawke, and Clicks & Whistles mingle with exclusives and obscurities. A highlight is the pitch-perfect Sibian and Faun track “I’m Sorry.”

For the fifth time, leading bass purveyor Hudson Mohawke drops a mix of classic slow jams in honor of the day. This is the music your parents would get down to, and it must have worked, because you exist. HudMo clearly knows his stuff. And in a tasteful – and fitting – tribute to Whitney Houston, he closes with her classic ballad “Didn’t We Almost Have It All.”

Deadboy is no stranger to the soulful side of dance music, and his offering is somewhere between the previous two. His mix for London’s Wifey club night moves effortlessly from Hall and Oates to Dizzy Rascal to (HudMo’s remix) of Blackstreet. There’s something for everyone here; think of this mix as a heart-shaped box of chocolates for music lovers.


Download: Luvstep 3
Download: Hudson Mohawke’s Slow Jams Chapter 5
Download: Deadboy Valentine’s Day Mix for Wifey

Future Grooves: Two Inch Punch

The rhythm and bass movement continues. Every day, a new future bass producer emerges, or an old favorite returns with a clutch of R & B edits (as Hudson Mohawke just did on his Pleasure bootlegs). But with the rush new material, the question of who can repeat early success lingers (for more evidence, look to moombahton).

West London’s Two Inch Punch seems up to the challenge. After breaking through with his brilliant – and in vogue – Brandy edit, “Love You Up,” Two Inch Punch is set to release an EP of the same name on PMR Records, home to UK bass favorites Julio Bashmore, Javeon McCarthy and Jessie Ware. Here’s that track, which appeared on this year’s Luvstep 2 mixtape.

[wpaudio url=”https://postcultural.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/01-love-you-up.mp3″ text=”Two Inch Punch – Love You Up” dl=0]

A self-described “frustrated Soul / RnB singer,” Two Inch Punch wears his influences – and his heart – on his sleeve. “My mum and dad brought me up on soul & vocal harmony groups – so I was inspired by short love songs by the Beatles, the music of Keith Sweat and Otis Redding… Sam Cooke’s heartfelt melodies and Donny Hathaway’s incredible vocal tones,” he shares. His inspHERation mix jams over thirty songs into just 20 minutes, shining a light on Two Inch Punch’s more recent influences and contemporary favorites.

While “Love You Up” strutted and bounced, Two Inch Punch’s latest offering “Up In Your Mix” pulses with call-and-response samples (one of which may be of Dru Hill). That track’s space-funk keys and swirling synths make a triumphant return, as well. If the rest of the Love You Up EP (out on October 31) sounds like what we’ve heard so far, Two Inch Punch will soon be keeping company with heavyweights.

EP Roundup: DJ Ayres / Cedaa / Derek Allen

Rather than following artists for new releases, sometimes it’s best to follow record labels. Here are three new offerings from some of the most reliable, tastemaking labels in existence.

DJ AyresI’d Fuck Me EP (T&A Records)

Based on its title and cover alone (both homages to Silence of the Lambs), listeners might expect something darker here. But fear not: DJ Ayres isn’t Buffalo Bill – he just starts parties. “Flashing Lights” (named after a party that Ayres threw with Nick Catchdubs and Jubilee) is disco house theme music with a funky bassline that’s more Studio 54 than Public Assembly. “Liberation” is the kind of soulful tech house that collaborators Nadastrom are known for. It wouldn’t be a T&A release these days without a tropical jam: the evocatively-titled “Panty Crickets” fills that void with tribal drums, squeaky synths and an pitch-perfect rave whistle. The Tomb Crew, Swick and Grandtheft try to hypercharge these tracks, but sometimes the direct approach is best.

CedaaJasmin EP (B.YRSLF division)

I’ve been following Cedaa’s juke-inflected future bass for a while now. The follow up to the Old Growth EP is definitely more mellow, with the juke beats a pulse rather than an explosion. On title track “Jasmin,” saccharine synths play against guttural chanting. There isn’t much of Japan in “Nippon,” just an elastic melody and industrial undercurrents. Two collaborations round out the originals: “20K,” with Distal, might refer to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, as it’s aquatic effects and waves of bass get pretty deep. “Windbreaker” with Slick Shoota is a juke-meets-rave banger complete with break beats, diva vox and airhorns. Remixes by Myrryrs, Chaos in the CBD, Sine, and DJ Hilti round out the EP and provide four new names to watch out for.

Derek AllenDJA EP (Mad Decent)

Long-time Mad Decent affiliate Derek Allen comes out from behind the boards for his debut record. Allen’s vocals are the perfect complement for these luvstep jams, his hip-hop and bass production skills on full display. Drums thunder on “Trying to Come Alive” and synths wobble on “Shoulda Listened;” the autotune on “Trying to Come Alive” is the EP’s rare misstep. “Susperia” (featuring Top Billin) feels like an 808s & Heartbreak outtake. Allen’s cover of “Spirits in the Material World” by The Police updates the song for the 21st century. The depth of the Mad Decent roster continues to impress.

Future Grooves: Gladkill

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.

The new R&B: Rhythm and bass

Each successive generation of musicians brings its own group of influences to the table. For a rising group of electronic music producers, this means mining the catalog of turn-of-the-century R&B in the service of soulful, hook-laden dubstep, funky and bass tracks. Producers like Timbaland and Magoo loom as large as Burial and Joker for these twentysomething DJs, and for good reason: their groundbreaking R&B dominated the charts for the better part of these producers’ formative years.

Last year, I profiled Deadboy, whose limited catalog is already filled with reworkings of familiar R&B tracks. Along with takes on songs by Cassie and Ashanti, his latest is a “slo-mo house edit” of the downtempo Drake / Alicia Keys jam “Fireworks.” Deadboy’s is an improvement on the original, as he pitches up Keys’ chorus and drops Drake’s pedestrian verses. His remix of the Burial-produced “Night Air,” by UK crooner Jamie Woon, adds a funky beat and soaring synths; he also can’t resist chopping up Woon’s vocals in the chorus.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/fireworks.mp3″ text=”Drake – Fireworks (Deadboy Slo-mo House Edit)” dl=0]
[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/night_air.mp3″ text=”Jamie Woon – Night Air (Deadboy Remix)”]

Meanwhile, Future Grooves featuree Kavsrave has been dabbling with the soulful side luvstep. His Numbers EP Quotes features the surging bass of the dubstep derivative, with samples similar to those utilized by Deadboy. His as-of-yet unreleased “Deluded” flips the chorus of “Replacement Girl,” pitchshifting the vocals and seemingly changing the gender of singer Trey Songz.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/deluded.mp3″ text=”Kavsrave – Deluded” dl=0]

For fans of the critically-acclaimed James Blake, the R&B underpinnings of his self-titled debut are more obscured than on his earlier work. The dizzying “CMYK” relied on processed samples of Kelis and Aaliyah: hints of nostalgia in an otherwise forward-thinking song. It should be no surprise that Harmonimix, who crafted a jazzy, chiptune remix of “Bills Bills Bills,” was eventually revealed to be Blake: the 1999 hit would have been ubiquitous for the 22-year-old.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/CMYK.mp3″ text=”James Blake – CMYK” dl=0]

The latest Luvstep mix by Flufftronix and Dirty South Joe shined a spotlight on many of these producers, including Submerse and Psychonaught. Psychonaught’s “super tweaked RnB resteps” of tunes like “Nasty Girl” and “Birthday Sex” are available for free.

The greatest discovery off Luvstep 2, however, is Two Inch Punch. TIP is a self-described “frustrated Soul / RnB singer” who produces grooves with influences that go even deeper than his contemporaries. The shimmering “Love You Up” and “Luv Luv” will be self-released on April 4 in the UK.

The largely UK-driven explosion of bass music has been a Godsend for an electronic music scene at the tail of the electro movement. For EDM fans who came of age when R&B dominated the airwaves, this new form of R&B – rhythm and bass – is a welcome mix of nostalgia and modernism.

Bonus: When they’re not putting out tropical bass, Nguzunguzu has gotten into the R&B fun, as well. They turned Ciara’s “Deuces” into Baltimore club, and their recent “Perfect Lullaby” mix for DIS Magazine launches with a remix of the classic “The Boy is Mine.” The entire mix is worth a listen:

MP3: NGUZUNGUZU – The Perfect Lullaby Mixtape (via DIS Magazine)

Luvstep 2: A Valentine from Dirty South Joe and Flufftronix

With the highly anticipated Luvstep 2 mixtape dropping at the stroke of midnight, Dirty South Joe and Flufftronix delivered the equivalent of chocolate and roses for fans of electronic music. And while the ultimate Hallmark holiday tends to disappoint, the mix certainly doesn’t.

Last year, the Philadelphia based duo identified an emerging trend: the mellow, romantic side of dubstep, a genre quickly falling victim to harder, aggressive sounds. The first Luvstep mix found DSJ and Fluff pulling scraps and threads together: a remix here, a dubplate there. A year later and the sonic fabric of luvstep is available by the yard. For the Luvstep DJs, this is when the fun starts.

The mix opens (after dialogue from quintessential chick flick The Notebook) with Breakage’s pulsing remix of “Ain’t Nobody,” by Clare Maguire. Quickly establishing a consistent bass/snare tick-tock, the mix focuses on soothing, vocal-centric songs, featuring singers like Katy B, Belle Humble, and Yasmin. This builds into the chainsaw wobble and chiptune distortion of Zeds Dead, on his remix of “Eyes on Fire” by Blue Foundation. Street bass master Starkey sets the tone for the middle of the tape with “Paradise:” airy and mellow. This holds until the sharp chords and post-DnB beats of collaborators dBridge and instra:mental.

The strength of the new mix is how deep it gets, introducing listeners to a whole slew of producers that are experimenting with luvstep sounds. The most intriguing of these come from the 90s R&B revitalism of producers like Pearson Sound (aka Ramadanman). This music is simultaneously the future of dance music and R&B; witness the critically-acclaimed EPs and debut record from James Blake. On Luvstep 2, newcomers Two Inch Punch and Psychonaught tweak Brandy and Ray J, respectively; the tunes are surprisingly apt for the mix. It finishes strong with up-tempo songs from Submerse: more futuristic R&B, with funky, garage beats dramatized by a layer of orchestral strings.

After the success of the Luvstep set at last summer’s Mad Decent Block Party, Dirty South Joe and Flufftronix are taking the show on the road. In DC, they will join turntablist-extraordinaire Klever and moombahtoner Obeyah at U Hall. It remains to be seen how luvstep plays in clubs where faster tempos dominate, but if anyone can make it work, it’s these guys.

The Luvstep Release tour

02/14/11 Philadelphia, PA at Fluid
02/14/11 Philadelphia, PA at The Lodge
02/19/11 Washington, DC at U Street Music Hall
02/22/11 Newark at Mojo on Main
03/02/11 Indianapolis at The Casba
03/03/11 Louisville, KY at Headliners

Luvstep Live at the Mad Decent Block Party

As I walked up 12th Street in Philadelphia on my way to the Mad Decent Block Party, I heard the unmistakable, soothing sounds of luvstep. The set marked the live debut of luvstep, the dubstep subgenre identified by Dirty South Joe and Flufftronix earlier this year on their mix of the same name. It was one of the many can’t-miss sets during the day. Luckily for those who missed it, the proverbial tape was running and the set is now available for download.

An introduction from Ten Things I Hate About You sets the tone: melancholic, bittersweet, and teeming with raw emotion. The 30-minute mix kicks off strong with tracks by Sky Ferreira and Nero, before revisiting essential tracks (Caspa’s remix of the Deadmau5 & Kaskade collab “I Remember”) and dropping new popstep heat (the trio of “Hold On,” “I Need Air,” and “Katy on a Mission”).

“PClart” by Kavsrave has been floating around for a few months; the female vocals and wonky bass are a perfect fit for the mix. The same is true of the “Edge of Seventeen”-sampling “Days Go By” by the Boogaloo Crew (who now are part of Future Grooves featuree Dark Sky). The mix closes with some Don Juan DeMarco:

“There are only four questions of value in life, Don Octavio. What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same: only love.”

For dubstep, a genre derided for its harsh sounds and bromantic attitude, only luvstep can save it.

Tracklist for Luvstep Live at the Mad Decent Block Party
Introduction: KATARINA
Sky Ferreira – One (Bar9 Remix)
Nero – Innocence
Deadmau5 – I Remember (Caspa Remix)
Rusko – Hold On (feat Amber Coffman)
Magnetic Man – I Need Air
Katy B – Katy On A Mission
Professor Green ft Lily Allen – Just Be Good To Me (Joker Remix – Fluff’s Greenless Dub)
M83 – We Own The Sky (Udachi Remix)
Kavsrave – PClart
Bobby Caldwell – What You Won’t Do For Love (DZ Remix)
Guido – Mad Sax
The Boogaloo Crew – Days Go By
The Living Graham Bond – Winter Hunter ft Fiona Bevan (Bare Noize Remix)
Epilogue: DON JUAN

Dubstep Dossier: Starkey

This year, Valentine’s Day meant more than just flowers, chocolates and ham-fisted attempts at romance. It also marked the release of Luvstep, a long-awaited mixtape by Dirty South Joe and Flufftronix on the Mad Decent Radio podcast. The Luvstep mix codified a developing trend in dubstep and bass sounds, away from the metallic and industrial and towards the melodic and orchestral. Introducing the mix was Philadelphia’s Starkey, a DJ/producer whose sonic output fully fits within the luvstep realm, even if he opts for the grimier “street bass” descriptor.

Starkey’s debut full-length, Ear Drums and Black Holes, released last month on Planet Mu, is a monument to how far dubstep has come. Throughout its 15 songs, Starkey pays tribute to two-step, garage, grime, and all the musical seeds that have cross-pollinated to form dubstep in 2010.

On opening track “OK Luv,” waves of shimmering synths and chiptune effects build over a stuttering shuffle, a pattern that repeats on tracks like “11th Hour” and “Four Dimension.” “Stars,” the first single from Ear Drums, puts the warbling synths and vocals by Anneka in the front of the mix for a chilled-out feel. Starkey does get grimey, too, opting for pnuematic, grinding bass and epic, siren-like instrumentation on tracks like “Spacecraft.”

Rappers Cerebral Vortex and P-Money turn the clock back to the grime glory days, reminding rappers, both underground and mainstream, that these gurgling instrumentals are the perfect complement to rhymes, once you master the two-step rhythms. Starkey proved this on his remix of Gorilla Zoe’s “Lost” for the ATL RMX album.

With dubstep producers like Rusko and Skream bringing back the rave, the scene needs a producer to advocate for luvstep. If Ear Drums and Black Holes is any indication, Starkey is more than capable. And remember, don’t fear the wobble.

The Verge – Dubstep

Welcome to The Verge: a column dedicated to music on the verge of a breakthrough. This inaugural column is inspired by the life-changing bass of the U Street Music Hall, and will focus on a few of the subsonic sounds coming to a system near you.

Rusko, the king of wobble, dropped the video for Woo Boost this week. The track is the lead single off his Mad Decent debut, O.M.G! As I’ve written about previously, Rusko is leading the way in the dubstep world with a singular sound that is aggressive and abrasive yet eminently listenable, like Charlie Brown’s teacher on acid. The video is the perfect visual complement to the ostentatious tunage. Obnoxious and glaring, the clip is a collage of broken video effects, swirling fluorescents, and a Union Jack-draped Rusko rocking a keytar. It is a total guilty pleasure, in all of its seizure inducing glory. The most defining visual is Rusko tearing through the green screen; it’s like watching the violent birth of something twisted and wrong. Enough words, watch the damn clip:

Jakwob first came to my attention thanks to his remixes of songs by Sound of 2010 winner Ellie Goulding, where he turned her shimmering, synth-folk-pop into danceable dubstep that preserved the charm of the originals. His remix of Kid Sister’s “Daydreaming” is more of the same: adding a dash of wobble to enhance, but not obscure, a solid dance track. His recent minimix for Annie Mac’s Radio 1 showcases both his remix and DJing talents as he skillfully mixes about 30 songs in 6 minutes. It sounds like DJ Premier and Girl Talk had a baby in London. Try to follow the bouncing ball:

Starkey, the Philadelphia purveyor of “that street bass sound,” will drop Ear Drums and Black Holes on April 19. Ear Drums is probably the first album that totally encapsulates the concept of luvstep (an interview with Starkey did launch the Luvstep podcast, after all). The first single, “Stars” (featuring Anneka), is the polar opposite of Woo Boost: a track designed for chillout not knockout. The video, while less over-the-top than that of Woo Boost, is disturbing in its own way, matching the tone of the deceptively dark track. “Stars” is only one of the Baskin Robbins-like flavors that appear on Ear Drums, so get your first taste now: