- The pairing of London's Ruckspin and Leeds' Jack Sparrow seems logical enough—both wedge frenetic jungle-inspired patterns in dubstep confines but stay traditional enough to be purist favourites. In fact, they have collaborated before, on Ruckspin's "Blessings" and Sparrow's "Dread." But with Author, these denizens of "deeper" dubstep have gone full time together, a new project with an entire album on Bristol institution Tectonic.
While Author has a lot of the sounds you would expect from the duo—quaking basslines, fidgety percussion—it's not even close to a hyperactive dervish. Rather, the duo explore a mutual fascination with dub and jazz, crafting a brand of dubstep that feels more like a 140BPM counterpart to Goldie's Timeless, than, say, Rufige Kru. It's a detour confirmed right from the start: "Turn," featuring soulful vocals from Ed Thomas, is all lush synthesizers and yearning horns, a surprisingly smooth concoction underlined by subtle LFO rumbles. Horns are all over this record, tightening its umbilical link to Timeless—and like that album, they're incorporated seamlessly, so that the wandering saxophone of "Green & Blue" is not gimmicky but simply natural, and the sheets of sound that lurk behind the rhythms ("Revolutions," "Drain") only add to its fascinatingly oblique and smoky atmosphere.
If the idea of horn-heavy dubstep scares you away from what you thought might be a ferocious collection of low-frequency barnstormers, the record's largely leisurely mood might throw you off just as strongly. When the album isn't wafting over exotic climes it resonates with a dubby spirituality reflected in the uplifting demeanor of tracks like "Sun," taking hints from Sparrow's uncharacteristically romantic "Loveless" last year and running with its light-footed tendencies. The dread characteristics of dubstep here are inverted to become warm, reassuring, and stirring, losing none of its power—only moving it to a new dimension. For those craving a spot of drum-swept heft, however, Author's second half offers some veritable delights with the panicked alarm call of "Mothership" and the duo's attractively spirited take on garage with "Fix."
Considering Sparrow's versatility and Ruckspin's involvement in live music project Submotion Orchestra, maybe the end result of Author shouldn't be so surprising, and its release on Tectonic only reaffirms that label's courageous commitment to diversity and growth. Their take on dubstep is comfortably conservative yet experimental, and this particular side project succeeds in its mission to bring out heretofore unseen sides of its members. When those members happen to be as talented as Jack Sparrow and Ruckspin, it's going to be hard for the results to be anything less than satisfying anyway.
01. Turn feat. Ed Thomas
04. Green & Blue feat. Ben Glass