The dubstep album is a tricky project. Most people engage with the genre on the dance floor and leave it at that. Burial’s albums are of course evidence that it’s possible to make LPs, as is last year’s brilliant Great Lengths from Martyn. Paul Rose aka Scuba is another artist who has been tackling this format since his debut A Mutual Antipathy, which had a profound influence on the dubstep techno crossover in 2006. In March this year the Hot Flush boss released his follow up, Triangulation, a fusion of dubstep, techno and drum n bass which has just been repackaged with an extra disc of remixes from Deadboy, Joe, Scuba himself and others.
Ranging from smokey chilled-out beats to energetic dubtechno rollers and trippy soundscapes Triangulation is Scuba’s best representation of his sound to date. But what is really impressive is that Rose has succeeded in making proper “songs” that can be appreciated outside the context of the club without sounding like they have compromised their energy. A lot of that is down to the variety within the tracks themselves. His songs are always moving and flowing; elements are introduced and removed subtly, and this motion, which a dancer might not notice, keeps the listener interested.
While high quality engineering is expected from a Scuba production, what is surprising is how melodic some of the tracks are. Tracks like ‘So You Think You’re Special’ and ‘You Got Me’ have fantastic melodies backed by great beats. It’s also a very atmospheric album. Boards of Canada style pads soar on ‘Tracers’ and the spooky garage of ‘Latch’ gives the track a late night vibe. The excellent ‘Before’ is the kind of track Massive Attack should be making in 2010.
As each track flows into the next it’s clear that Scuba intended this album to be digested as a whole. The album coherently moves through a beginning, a middle and an end; something which is very satisfying to experience. The epic finale of ‘Lights Out’ with its dubby chords, twinkling notes and bongos is a fitting conclusion.
The remixes add another dimension with Faulty DL turning ‘On Deck’ into a loungey house/ garage track and Joe contributes a tense remix of ‘So You Think You’re Special’. Scuba’s own mix of ‘Before’ reaches dizzy new heights in the vein of Apparat’s electronica. The highlight however is Canadian Deadbeat’s ‘Tracers’ remix which sounds custom made for Berghain on a busy Saturday night.
While the remixes are a nice addition, it’s the first disc that is the main draw. Triangulation is the one of the best electronic albums released during a very fertile year for the genre. Regardless of how dubstep evolves, Scuba will be a producer who’ll keep making music that moves dancefloors and minds.