June 8, 2009

Headhunter - Nomad (2008, Tempa)

Turning our focus back to contemporary electronic music, a dubstep album that really stood out last year was Headhunter's "Nomad" full-length on the excellent Tempa label. Headhunter had caught my attention the previous year with his track "Locus Lotus" from the "Iniate EP" 12", a storming 4/4 house track with a very strong reggae/dubstep influence, a style which I think people in the UK are now calling "funky house" or just "funky". The other tracks on the 12" explored grime territory with slow, half-step rhythms and big growling wobbly basslines, with some warm touches of dub techno pads and effects. The style is similar to 2562, who was also a big-name dubstep artist in '08, but on a more melodic and sometimes cinematic vibe, reminiscent of Burial. The production is top-notch as well, with constantly shifting textures and change-ups in rhythm that avoid the "dubstep pitfall" of over-repetition of one groove. "Nomad" starts with a strong, if by-the-books, dub techno track but quickly gets exciting with "Prototypes", a driving techno-influenced track with a dance-able dubstep beat. "Grounded" brings back the dub techno motifs, but set to a sick Burial-esque beat and heavy sub-bass rumbles. Lots of organic percussion mixed with futuristic digital effects add up to a very forward-thinking dance sound that I really want to hear more of in clubs. Slower, half-step tracks like "Baseflow" take the hip-hop inspired UK grimey sound in a hyper-futuristic direction, making for great, head-nodding chill out vibes. Just last week, Rinse FM put up a live Headhunter vs N-Type set for free mp3 download featuring many new Headhunter tracks! Check it!