Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Clubroot - Clubroot
Lo Dub Records.
SCQ Rating: 81%
There’s no skirting the comparison so I’ll just dive right in: Burial’s Untrue required approximately ten months to truly love. From the outset, I’d found multiple reasons to stick around; tracks as obvious as ‘Archangel’ and ‘Shell of Light' were integral to early listens yet underscored by the brilliant ambience of ‘In MacDonalds’. Compared to the wood-block percussion renowned to Burial’s more popular fare, ‘In MacDonalds’ is feather-light, a near segue of moody shadows that unites his sophomore as much as it captivated my newfound interest in UK’s garage scene. The rest was history: Untrue squeezed into SCQ’s Top Twenty of 2007, much to the credit of that seventh track, while paving the way for Clubroot. Do they sound similar? In essence, sure… but where Burial attemps to split his efforts between dancefloor-ready epics and short ambient standstills, Clubroot is resigned to expressing dubstep in its more atmospheric form. In other words, Clubroot is actually what I originally hoped Untrue would be.
Having cut his teeth in clubs over the past ten years (while issuing the occasional 12”), Clubroot could hardly be considered a forgery… and his allegiance to dubstep pays off as early as ‘Low Pressure Zone’; an establishing shot as barren but beautiful as this self-titled's cover-art. As downtempo beats shuffle along the wasteland of sexless vocals and a wavering keyboard effect, this opener emits all the sterile chill of Eno’s Music For Airports… if, you know, it was chalked out by Massive Attack. Such atmosphere guides this ten-song cycle through dancefloor-friendly cuts – the techno flirtations of ‘Lucid Dream’, the sleek dubstep of ‘Talisman’ – and exploratory near-triphop terrain (‘Serendipity Dub’). In this fluidity, Clubroot succeeds in out-gracing, if not out-shocking Burial’s catalog, smearing his crystalline compositions with slabs of sweet overcast instead of UK rave sweat. When Clubroot’s mood isn’t alley-bound in sheets of rainy despair, it’s wistful on ‘Dulcet’, where between ghostly swirls and ever-patient dub lies a toybox lullaby completely untouched. Clubroot may not gather the same flock of fans that celebrate Burial as dubstep’s fearless innovator – which I encourage, seeing as this producer shouldn’t be in anyone’s shadow - yet this debut announces itself as worthy of the same graces bestowed upon Untrue. If Clubroot has pioneered anything here, it’s a striking realization of what ‘In MacDonalds’ suggested; that dubstep has broken into the home-listening electronic sphere, and belongs.