Kromestar: My Sound

It's ironic that Kromestar (twenty-five-year-old R. Kalsi aka Ironsoul) titled his collection My Sound when at least some of the album's material could be productions by any number of dubstep candidates. Not that there's anything criminal about releasing music that shares qualities with the work of others—not every artist's as sui generis as, say, Burial or The Knife—but trumpeting so explicitly the uniqueness of one's sound may be a questionable move when it occasionally calls to mind kindred figures Benga and Skream (both of their fingerprints seem to be all over “Repitched”). Even so, there's nothing objectionable about the fourteen tracks on Kromestar's debut long-player for F-One's Dubstar label. All the elements are solidly in place in the opener “Galaktic War”—sputtering bass wobble, a swinging, uptempo beat pattern, creamy synths, and even a grandiose trumpet-like motif—and the tune is so dynamic and captivating, you decide that Kromestar just might have a unique sound after all. He riffs on the genre's spookier side in “Poltergeist,” where intersecting lines of rattling and woozy synths lend the tune a brooding, G-man spirit, and sneaks in echoing Rastafarian voice accents and smoky saxophone playing amongst the lurching mechano-dub of “Pass the Light.” “8 Ball,” with its crawling bass line, organ flourishes, and ghostly sax punctuations, similarly stands out as a superb take on dub. Not surprisingly there's no shortage of classic dubstep on offer too (“Weak,” “My Sound,” “Frenemy,” “Demon Slayah”).

The tracks are all impeccably executed and exude the polish we've come to expect from producers of his electronic ilk, plus he proves himself as adept at creating dub-wise fare as pure dubstep, and includes a few mellower takes that consequently add welcome contrast to the overlong, seventy-six-minute collection. The sleek, laid-back flow of “Go Away,” “Aston Martin,” and “The Truth,” for example, proves that dubstep can just as easily entrance when presented in a softer mode. It's in quieter settings like these that Kalsi's talents impress most of all when his tasteful handling of the songs' elements is so nakedly exposed. His material is further distinguished by the actual instrument sounds, in particular the pulsating throb of the deep bass lines and resonant snap and pop of the dubby snares that anchor so many tracks.

December 2008