Drum & bass threw up awe-inspiring debuts like Goldie's Timeless and Roni Size's New Forms, only to provide crushing disappointment on the sequels. One thing that's been surprising about dubstep isn't just that it works so well in the long-player format, but that second albums have often been better than the first. Burial both refined and widened the palette of his debut, the imminent Ear Drums and Black Holes from Starkey has a scope his 2008 debut Ephemeral Exhibits only hinted at and Triangulation—the new album from Paul Rose, AKA Scuba—takes all the elements of 2008's A Mutual Antipathy and more to the next level as well.
Or should that be deeper down instead? As his moniker suggests, Scuba has always had a somewhat aquatic sound. Indeed, "Minerals" even begins with the noise of dripping water and sonar bleeps. But what really makes Scuba feel so submerged is the feeling of pressure here, bending the different styles into strange new mutations like alien-looking fish who feed at the bottom of the oceans. "Heavy Machinery" has a house beat anchored by a grinding dubstep bassline, while "Three Sided Shape"'s two-step rhythms are awash with electronic flotsam and drowned vocals.
It can definitely get dark down there, but Triangulation never sinks in misery, the closing "Lights Out" has the same warm house undercurrents and rhythmic invention as Joy Orbison. He also remembers to come up for air—"Before" and "So You Think You're Special" both boast the kind of soulful phased vocal effects Instra:mental have made their trademark, an influence Rose might well have developed working with them and D-Bridge for Autonomic recently. That elder drum & bass heads like Instra:mental and D-Bridge are actively looking to the younger dubsteppers for inspiration confirms that dubstep has come of age, a fact that an album as mature and well-rounded as Triangulation makes even clearer.