Scuba: Triangulation
Hot Flush Recordings

It would be interesting to jump ahead five years from now to see who of the current crop of dubstep producers will still be active. Triangulation, the follow-up to his 2008 debut album, A Mutual Antipathy, and the recent Ostgut Ton DJ mix, Sub:stance Vol. 1, strongly suggests that Scuba (Hotflush Recordings head Paul Rose) will be one of those left standing. At the same time, it also must needs be said that labeling him a ‘dubstep' producer is somewhat off the mark, as the album's material indicates that it's just one style of many he's comfortable with, and furthermore his material alchemizes multiple genres—techno, dub-techno, and dubstep most of all—in any given track into a highly personalized hybrid style.

That Triangulation is designed to be heard as an album and not just a collection of tracks is intimated by sequencing that introduces the hour-long set with a portentous ambient-soundscaping overture (“Descent”) before the rhythm-based tracks kick in. And that they do, starting with the crisp lockstep drive of “Latch,” all dubstep-techno swing and heavy atmosphere (voice stabs, grainy textures), and the brisk snap of “Three Sided Shape,” which ups the propulsion ante even more. On these pieces and others, a Burial influence declares itself in the tracks' textural composition but Scuba's exuberant rhythm attack helps distance him from the Hyperdub star. Halfway through Triangulation, a shift in focus occurs, beginning with “On Deck,” which fuses electro and house into a bleepy, skipping dervish, and “Before,” which slows the pace for a bass-heavy, trip-hop-styled treatment that merges a female vocal's soulful musings with electro-synth flares. Traces of drum'n'bass seep into both the dubstep fire of “You Got Me” and the sultry vocal-laced IDM of “So You Think You're Special,” the latter in particular showcasing Rose's deft talent for merging disparate genres. At disc's end, he initially submerges “Lights Out” in a echo-drenched bath that would do Intrusion and Deepchord proud before jumpstarting the track with a dynamic dubstep thrust. Put simply, Rose demonstrates immense skill and craft, not to mention taste, in this exceptional recording.

May 2010