Best of 2009: Funkstep and other unnamed dubstep mutations

Things I was excited about in 2009 pt.3

Some people like to play with genre names, others make fun of these attempts and seriously allege that the former kill music by doing so, and there are only two types of music – good and bad (forgetting that there are as many good and band musics, as there are people, multiplied on their changing moods and ages). Whatever, let’s not go deep in the etymology and genealogy wars, let’s just have a look at a certain area of music that some people called Funkstep, no matter how long this name will survive.

A couple years ago dubstep, which was mostly known to people outside the game as gloomy, teutonic half-stepping hardly-danceable monster with wobbling basses (which was partially – but only partly! - true), started both dividing, cross-pollinating and reaching out to wider audiences, impregnating other musics and intervening countries and scenes. Some branches, crossing over with techno, become very uplifting and sometimes turning straight-beat (2562, Sigha). At the same time tempo remained strictly 140 bpm. Then came UK Funky – essentially a house music around 125-128 bpm with strong UK Garage and Afrobeat influence, made by former grime producers, disenchanted in masculinity and aggression of their audience. While not exactly radical invention, UKF reminded everyone that apart from futurism and any forms of musical inventiveness dance music should be fun.

As the result, some dubstep producers started slowing down their BPMs, some funky people – raising theirs. Many also began widening their sound palette and invent less predictable drum patterns. As the result, the sign o’ the times is the tendency of closing the dance music continuum between straight–beat realm of under 130 bpm and dubstep-broken beat area around 140 bpm; and the appearance of tracks that in the simplest case sound like slower straightened dubstep, or – the yummiest part of the cake - an exciting mixture of electro, Nintendo/gameboy music, grime, electrofunk, Miami bass, house and anything else.

Check out:
[STEAK001] Mr Gasparov/Octa Push
[BRK012] Geiom & Spamchop “Sirius Star”
[BRK011] Geiom “Eyl Booty”
[HES009] Pearson Sound “WAD/PSLN”
Speech Debelle - Spinnin' (DVA Funkstep remix)
Wickeda - A Nie Dvamata S Bobi Piem Kafe [Ramadanman Refix]
[7even 009] F – Epilogue (Ramadanman Rerub)
[AMS001B] A Made Up Sound „Rework/Closer”
[HDB026] Martyn „Mega Drive Generation”
[HDB020] Cooly G “Narst/Love Dub”
[PIPS009] Instra:Mental “Forbidden”
[IBR04] Octa Push

UPDATE: two years later I played a partially reminiscent 135bpm set at now defunct underground club Dirty Deal in Riga, dropping some of the tunes mentioned above, and generally concentrating on the Funkstep as I understand it. Here's the recording:

Read more about the mix here.


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