Scuba - A Mutual Antipathy

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  • Judging from Scuba's debut album, his relocation to Berlin has been an important one. No, he hasn’t started making minimal, but the textures of Berlin, and by extension, the influence of Detroit, are all over these songs. A Mutual Antipathy is a stunningly successful combination of London dubstep beats and subs with the floating textures of early ‘90s and contemporary techno, all pitched just right for home listening. That is the key to this album—it knows that the home isn't the club, yet it sacrifices little of what makes dubstep such potent club music. Right from opener ‘Systematic Decline,’ this album bounces on a bed of sub-bass, though mostly this takes a backseat to the melodic elements of the tracks. Which is perfect, because the majority of us don't have Funktion 1 soundsystems in our bedrooms. The second track ‘Hard Boiled’ really sets the tone. Wonky drums and howling synths usher in a Basic Channel-esque main line, offset with flourishes of Selected Ambient Works-style pads. ‘Disorder’ picks up a repeated, filtered synth lead, which, along with the 4/4 pulse is very reminiscent of the wetter side of German techno. Another influence can be heard in the industrial nature of the drums—they’re often heavy or even crushing. Yet, such as on ‘Ruptured’, they are offset by synth parts of such a delicate nature that they don't ever overwhelm the home listener. Also adding to the cohesive nature of the album is the fact that the tracks run together. It’s not mixed as such, but when the synth line of ‘The Upside’ pokes up out of the static of ‘Ruptured,’ it helps to make it one of the most memorable on the album. A Mutual Antipathy has got subs, huge drum patterns, dry synths worthy of minimal's finest sound designers and emotional crescendos enough to perhaps even satisfy a trance lover. If I had one criticism of this album, it'd be that it is slightly uniform in rhythm and mood. The uniformity helps, however, to make this such a cohesive collection. For a relatively small genre, dubstep has been unusually fruitful in the album department. A Mutual Antipathy is in no way going to change that trend.
  • Tracklist
      01 Systematic Decline 02 Hard Boiled 03 Tell Her 04 Disorder 05 Ruptured 06 The Upside 07 Twitch 08 Stolen 09 Poppies 10 From Within 11 Suck