I went to a dubstep club and I discovered something very interesting going on in drum & bass.
All Out Dubstep is Stockholm's number one dubstep night (or rather, only dubstep night) and they had a brilliant event on at the Students Union. The genre is such a brilliant example of why music styles work best in the first few years of their existence, before the format is completely settled. I was especially impressed by a Rinse FM DJ called Chef whose sampling eclecticism ranged from Bounty Killer to Balkan jazz via Busta Rhymes, Niche, epic house, horror movies, spoken word, all brilliantly dubstepped up. I really liked his focus on Jamaican material as well with sublime touches like a few seconds' worth of "I Chase the Devil". The rhythm constantly weaved from nu-breaks to one-drop and everything in between.
All evening I also kept checking the adjacent drum & bass room and was turned off every time. I just don't particularly like the genre - it's too dense, too sample-centric, too old-and-stale, too pretentiously intelligent for my tastes. But then Chef was brought in to do a drum & bass set in that room and to my great surprise it was absolutely brilliant. Fresh, exciting, modern-sounding material. There's definitely something interesting creeping about in the jungle.
I couldn't find any tracklists or the like on the net so I sent off an e-mail to the organisers and they sent me a bunch of tracks and artists to check out (thank you Martin at Club Traffic). Now that I've done that I'm even more excited if anything.
Just listen to these tracks from the set and tell me if they aren't brilliant. They've got a sense of fun, speeded delirium that's rare in music (Ca Plane Pour Moi and Surfing Bird excepted) with short interjections, fun samples and happy danceable basslines, connecting across the pond to bmore and ghettotech. On top of that they're exquisitely modern, if not 2008 in sound then at least 2006-ish - great wobble basses, spacious production, garage and grime influences.
TC - Game Over (Youtube "video")
Clipz and Die - Number 1 (Youtube "video")
Martin claimed the music was part of a sub-genre called jump up, and listening to some classics of the genre I can certainly see the connection. But it's all been updated to sound so new that it's almost like another genre entirely. Apparently (judging by Wikipedia edits and Youtube comments) this type of music is considered declassé "chav" material by "true drum & bass fans" which is certainly a recommendation in my book, and indeed it seems to lie closer in spirit to the best of garage than to something like liquid funk.
Looking through the myspace pages of the artist list, the ones that appealed especially were Clipz, DJ Hazard and TC and what's interesting about them is that they all come from the same city, Bristol, and what more they're all residents at the same club night. This kind of local scene-building gets me all hot under the collar, it's exactly the kind of stuff I go for. I also think the trend towards vocals and proper track structures is very promising.
I'm telling you, keep a look out for "Bristol runstep" or whatever this scene will end up being called. In my book at least, this stuff should be blowing up to high heavens.