In Jennifer Egan’s recent novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad, one particularly arresting chapter is set in the near-future, where certain words have lost all their original meaning. These “empty words,” as Egan refers to them, have come to embody such simple concepts as “friend” and “real,” which can only be written if surrounded by ironic scare-quotes. Dubstep as a genre tag has begun to feel similarly, just such a phenomena. Over the last couple of years, the word has lost much of its meaning, rarely referring to the syncopated 70 or 140 beats per minute that once defined the genre. Rather, "dubstep,” has become a catch-all moniker for any electronic music with an off-kilter beat and bass-heavy sound.
SBTRKT is a truly post-modern producer in that doesn’t seem to care about classification or genre what-so-ever. Just as his music can’t be easily applied with a name, SBTRKT’s true identity is also a mystery: He obscures his face with a mask when performing in a real-life analogy to the music he creates. “Hold On feat. Sampha” is a minimal, ominous track that feels simultaneously mechanical and emotional, with Sampha’s R&B delivery counterbalancing an austere alien-sounding rhythm. SBTRKT is an abbreviation of “Subtract” which is exactly what he does here, stripping away all superfluous elements from Sampha’s vocal centerpiece. Whatever you want to call “Hold On,” “post-dubstep,” “R&B,” “bass music,” the track speaks for itself—better to experience than attempt to define.
"Hold On feat. Sampha"
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