Aerial: 2562

Aerial's 2562 makes the line separating dubstep and dig-dub seem very thin indeed. In fact, it wouldn't be inaccurate to imagine 2562 as what Scott Monteith's next Deadbeat full-length might sound like if, that is, he were to make a conscious effort to nudge his style dramatically in dubstep's direction (“Basin Dub” and “Enforcers” exemplify perfectly that hypothetical sound). The debut Aerial album from Dutch-born Dave Huismans (“2562” is his home district code in The Hague) for Bristol-based Tectonic pairs four previously-released tracks with six new cuts. By his own admission, Huismans is a bit of a catalyzing sponge (“That's what I usually do really; absorb and process elements from all kinds of music I love and fuse them into something I feel comfortable calling my own”), and traces of others' music do occasionally surface: the slow-motion flow and billowing dub ambiance of “Redux,” for instance, calls to mind Rhythm & Sound, while “Greyscale” suggests a steamy meld of Kode9, dub, and Chain Reaction. Nevertheless, the material oozes finesse, and Aerial's tracks are generally more animated than the prototypical dubstep track.

The album begins strongly with “Redux” where winds blow and phantom chords ripple across a lurching skank of cavernous bass throb and snare thwack, but really gets moving with “Morvern,” a funky groover that Huismans spikes with house-like swing and dubby bass percolation. “Channel Two” likewise injects its heaving dub rhythms and synth smears with an infectiously buoyant charge, while “Techno Dread” is hardly slowed by the woozy bass flow that wavers precariously over the tune's breathless gallop. 2562 makes occasional forays into classic dubstep territory too with ample doses of deep-throated bass wobble sputtering through “Moog Dub” and the lugubrious closer “The Times,” which seemingly plunges to dub's oceanic depths. Huismans admirably makes room for space in his tracks, whether it be in the form of dropouts, pauses, or just simply arrangements stripped to their skeletal frames. Another appealing aspect is that the ten pieces, all in the five-minute range, don't overstay their welcome but weigh in at a digestible fifty minutes, and the fine-detailed production quality deserves mention too (e.g., the percussive flourishes that ricochet throughout “Kameleon,” a surging fusion of dancehall rumble, dub, and techno). Listeners with Tectonic's previous full-lengths by Cyrus and Pinch on their shelves will surely want to make room for Aerial's too.

August 2008