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Scientist Launches Dubstep Into Outer Space


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Performer Notes
  • Hopeton Brown (aka Scientist) is one of the greatest and last remaining of Jamaica's first generation of dub producers. He apprenticed under the late King Tubby, the undisputed master of all dub masters, and has been at the forefront of developments in the art form since emerging on his own in the early '80s. This two-disc set is something of a departure for him; he was invited to remix a program of 12 previously unreleased dubstep tracks from the likes of Kode9, Shackleton, Pinch, Mala, and Jack Sparrow. Despite its moniker, dubstep actually has little rhythmically in common with reggae; it tends to be built on a lurching, off-kilter beat that sounds like it was meant to be danced to by someone with one leg shorter than the other, and although its basslines are teeth-shakingly loud and deep, they tend not to be as melodic as those of reggae. Many of the tracks collected here are actually somewhat lighter than dubstep fans might expect: Guido's "Korg Back" is calm and nearly pretty, while Shackleton's "Hackney Marshes" dances lightly and Distance's "Ill Content" brings a darker flavor to the proceedings without departing substantially from the decorous tone set by the other artists. Not until the very end, when Kode9 and Spaceape collaborate on the brilliant "Abeng," do the proceedings start getting that nervously bustling quality that characterizes so much contemporary dubstep. The second disc features Scientist's remixes, and it is to his credit that none of them tries to wrestle the original track into a prefabricated reggae template. "The Long Way" by Armour (Roly Vex'd) gets a bigger and more echoey acoustic, and Jack Sparrow's excellent "Red Sand" is given a dense and nearly jungly mix, but for the most part Scientist shows both taste and restraint in his mixes. Unsurprisingly, the most exciting remix is his deconstruction of RSD's "After All," the most reggae-flavored entry in the original program. On this track Scientist does really let loose with some reggae-style dub technique, and the result is spectacular. But there are no weak tracks on this excellent collection. The only complaint one might have is that it would have been nice to hear Scientist's mixes directly after each track rather than segregated on a separate disc. ~ Rick Anderson
Professional Reviews
Pitchfork (Website) - "The spacious percussive austerity of 'Hackney Marshes', the lovers-rock shudder of 'U', and the assaultive wobble of 'The Long Way' are evidence enough of dubstep's ability to redefine its own parameters."

Uncut (magazine) (p.99) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "His reworking of Shackleton's 'Hackney Marshes' is especially spaced out. A great old/new perspective."
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