- What does dubstep mean to you? Chances are that it's not the dubbed-out meditations of producers like Mala, Loefah and Bristol's first dubstep ambassador, Rob Ellis (AKA DJ Pinch). No, your answer is more likely to be something that leans towards the midrange-obsessed womp-womp-womp tear-out rave-ups, or something infused with techno, garage or house. The old guard is still kicking, though, and Pinch's first release of 2010—a long-awaited dubplate—is the kind of track that betters the new guys at their own game.
"The Boxer" almost sounds like the culmination of a fiercely independent and inspiring career. The mix of tribalisms, skittering percussion and gut-wrenching bass separately refer back to progressive stages of his development, conveniently assembled together in one walloping package. The sounds and textures are familiar to Pinch devotees but dialed up to an almost obscene level: the live-sounding drum samples could level walls, and the curiously static-wracked bass is a noxious cloud of gritty particulate.
The secret of Pinch's power here ironically lies in the dreaded midrange. Rather than take the easy route and let loose a string of wobbling LFOs, Ellis isolates a single note and lets it ring out in explosive bursts, and in doing so illustrates that obnoxiously loud "filth" can be just as properly affecting—and effective—as meditative sub-basslines, when executed properly.
"The Boxer" is the type of track that's almost legendary before it even gets released, and, as such, it could be argued a B-side is almost pointless. A remix, then, must be sacrilege, and dubstep pioneer Oris Jay (under his Darqwan alias) seems unsure what to do, adding an unnecessary vocal sample and taking it dangerously close to the generic fare that the original looks down upon. But the strength of "The Boxer" is such that even a mediocre remix can't quell its power: It's a rousing, inspiring tune that beautifully blends classicism and futurism as only a veteran can.
A The Boxer
B The Boxer (Darqwan Remix)