Hyperdub might just be the most inquisitive label in dubstep. First it launched Burial, lately it’s been picking up Japanese 8-bit acts – it is one of those labels that always seems to choose the unexpected. The latest Hyperdub is no exception. Darkstar are a Bristol duo responsible for some of the more experimental records in dubstep, and this time around they come up with a gorgeously catchy slice of pop dubstep for Hyperdub.
‘Need You’ on the A-side is definitely the stronger cut. It marries something that sounds like an organ to a heavily processed vocal intoning things like “Hold me/Closer...” underpinned by a totally irresistible stepping bassline that definitely doesn’t lack punch but also manages to sound halfway okay on cheap speakers. It is a track that could be useful both at a house party full of sixteen year olds or at a light moment during a serious, grown-up style rave in a dingy basement, a versatility which sets it apart from pretty much everything to come before it.
Now that’s not to say it's better than everything else, not by a long chalk, but rather to suggest that if dubstep producers want to make records with genuine pop appeal – and the prominence of this music in British culture suggests that they might – this might be a good blueprint to think about. ‘Need You’ is very well produced and wears its lightheartedness on its sleeve, thus avoiding the pitfall of trying simultaneously to retain credibility with the hardcore wobblers and reach out for a broader base of listeners, something that hamstrung the Benga album, for example.
‘Squeeze My Lime’ on the flip is an interesting cut, but lacks a little in the beat department and feels like it would have no real use on the dancefloor. It starts promisingly, and includes a fair bit of the pathos inducing, vaguely Daft Punk style robot vocal work that makes the A-side feel like such a hit, but in the end simmers instead of boils.
For those who have experienced the special magic of real dubstep in a dark room on a huge system, and who worry that that might end up turning into something as limited and confined as drum n’ bass, releases like this one offer a little hope: let’s keep our wobblers wobblers, and our pop pop. That way everyone goes home happy.
Buy Darkstar - Need You/Squeeze My Lime at
Tracklist: Darkstar - Need You/Squeeze My LimeA Need You
B Squeeze My Lime