Some ideas are so obviously great that you kick yourself for not thinking of them first. Getting renowned producer and dub pioneer Scientist to remix a bunch of dubstep tracks is one of these ideas, and you can thank Pinch and his Tectonic label crew for your self-inflicted wounds. It's a savvy move: having Hopeton Brown, the music's ancestor, reconfigure these tracks in his own legendary manner not only legitimizes dubstep through acknowledgment from its origins, but pins it close to its roots at a time when it's flying farther and farther away from them.
Scientist Launches Dubstep into Outer Space comes packaged with an extra disc of the original tracks, and Tectonic went one step further in procuring original and exclusive tracks from dubstep's biggest names. Rather than going the easy route of delivering a bunch of rinsed out classics into Scientist's hands, they take a risk that pays off. Instead of castaways or leftovers, each producer delivers work on par with their absolute best. Pinch's "2012" lets loose choking, gaseous clouds while Distance's "Ill Kontent" is his finest tune in years, loading enormous weight into each bar without resorting to overtly aggressive LFO. Recent Tectonic superstar Jack Sparrow provides the out-there "Red Sand," where aboriginal chanting lurks in the outskirts, and Bristol dub king RSD's "After All" is a poppy slice of vocal reggae dubstep.
Listening over the originals, it begins to feel like Tectonic could have just released these and had a masterpiece on their hands. Thankfully, Scientist does more than just turn each track into a versioned dub template. Instead, he meticulously tinkers—notably keeping within the confines of dubstep tempo—deconstructing rhythms, widening spaces and submerging frequencies underwater. Brown dissects and examines before building meaner, sometimes leaner versions: his reworks vary from microscopic tightening (Shackleton's otherwise freeform "Hackney Marshes") to sprawling deconstructions (the psychedelics of Armour's otherwise mundane "The Long Way"). The original structure of the tracks usually remains intact, and rather than a gimmicky dub album, he builds a forward-thinking record full of dubstep rhythms that aren't afraid to break or splinter unpredictably outside of already ill-defined rules.
The best results come when Brown works with idiosyncratic tracks like Guido's "Korg Back," where he wedges pounding beats in the middle of winding melodies and nearly drowns the synths, heightening their euphoric impact when they're finally allowed to come back for air. Cyrus's lurching horror dirge "Footsteps" is given a new lease on life when Scientist doubles up the percussion, and Mala's unique dubwise swagger is exaggerated to top-heavy extremes. The project's crown achievement is Loefah's "Dog Money"—the first new release from the Swamp81 label boss and Digital Mystikz since 2008. Where the original is a pitch-perfect throwback to dubstep's formative years, Scientist turns its joyous halfstep into throbbing threats so tense they're suspended in mid-air, melting the pads into uneasy, mocking moans.
There's something grandiose about Scientist Launches Dubstep into Outer Space, from its considerable implications to its stupefying sonics. Tectonic have successfully bridged the gap between one of the world's fastest growing dance musics and its stylistic progenitor. By inverting backward-looking classicism into audaciously unstable experiments, Tectonic and Scientist have rendered conceptions of time and canon irrelevant.
01. Pinch feat. Emika - 2012 Dub
02. Armour (Roly Vex'd) - The Long Way Dub
03. Guido - Korg Back Dub
04. Shackleton - Hackney Marshes Dub
05. King Midas Sound - U Dub
06. Loefah & SGT Pokes - Dog Money Dub
07. Distance - Ill Kontent Dub
08. RSD - After All Dub
09. Jack Sparrow - Red Sand Dub
10. Mala (Digital Mystikz) - City Cycle Dub
11. Cyrus (Random Trio) - Footsteps Dub
12. Kode 9 & Spaceape - Abeng Dub
01. Pinch feat. Emika - 2012
02. Armour (Roly Vex'd) - The Long Way
03. Guido - Korg Back
04. Shackleton - Hackney Marshes
05. King Midas Sound - U
06. Loefah & SGT Pokes - Dog Money
07. Distance - Ill Kontent
08. RSD - After All
09. Jack Sparrow - Red Sand
10. Mala (Digital Mystikz) - City Cycle
11. Cyrus (Random Trio) - Footsteps
12. Kode 9 & Spaceape - Abeng