Now, supergroups are pretty common place in today’s music landscape: Them Crooked Vultures, The Dead Weather and Atoms For Peace are just a few. But music’s newest genre, dubstep, was still lacking a collaboration of the highest order. That was of course until the three most influential forerunners of dub decided to push Magnetic Man, the intermittent collaborative name to full group status. Artwork, Benga and Skream are looked at as three of the creators of dubstep and have been creating the ‘marmite’ like sound from the very beginning. You love dubstep or you hate dubstep, there just doesn’t seem to be much middle ground in the matter, but Magnetic Man have vowed with this album to create a sound that’s accessible while still being loyal to the genre. But the question remains: can this supergroup be a greater collaboration than that of The Sugababes and Atomic Kitten?
The album’s opening track goes by without a single wobble or heavy bass womp. The track is an elegant piano and string instrumental, while still very much in the jittery dubstep vibe and acts as a perfect mood setter. There are some great guest appearances on the album, the first of which is Ms Dynamite on ‘Fire’. The track has an edgy bass loop which could have ended up sounding rather generic and similar to any other dubstep track, but then in comes Ms Dynamite with her swagger and flair and delivers vocals in a way only she can to give the track individuality. Album closer ‘Getting Nowhere’ features soul singer John Legend. The track opens with xylophones and Legend’s velvet smooth voice before a slower bass loop kicks and creates a song with a hugely chilled out vibe to it. Lead single ‘I Need Air’ has already proved to be a massive hit on dancefloors as it is more of a traditional dance tune with softer bass and catchy lyrics. It’s a real anthem and will be getting played for months to come.
All of those tracks, you could probably get away with putting on a mix CD for your mother, which means Magnetic Man have succeeded in making this album accessible. Well partly, because the sounds that most established dubstep fans are going to buy this album in hope of having a sniff at are here, and at intensities that could level cities and make cute little kittens explode. ‘The Bug’, ‘Mad’ and ‘Karma Crazy’ are all shotgun shells to the gut! ‘The Bug’ is probably the most inexplicably sinister song since ‘Ice-Cream’ by gore stepper Borgore. A hissing female talks over the opening of the track, “I am a bug in this global community” before the bass line drops and is accompanied by a deep, techno voice describing the corruption in the modern world. ‘Mad’ is very reminiscent of Artwork’s track ‘Red’. There’s a lot of fuzz, colliding loops and several drum machines at work here. It is perfectly paced and the foundation track of the album. ‘Karma Crazy’ is a master class in organised chaos and is the album’s stand out track. The song is full of calm, string based interludes which act well to break up the carnage. If you want to make your ears bleed then this is the track you’ll be putting on repeatedly at full volume, through your headphones.
As an album of innovative work, this is probably going to prove to be the album of year and don’t be surprised to see this nominated for the Mercury Prize next summer. This collection of tracks shows off the groups’ excellence at creating ever more unique sounds in a genre that they created and that is, sadly, becoming highly over crowded with pretenders. When it comes to dubstep Artwork, Benga and Skream are the canine’s testicles.
From Rhys Morgan.