Saturday Flashback: Lindsey Stirling – Elements

Tim: I found this from the sidebar videos next to the Adrian Lux track we did a few days ago, and was intrigued by the description in the title of ‘Dubstep Violin’. Have a listen.

Tom: Ah! Lindsey Stirling. YouTube star, with astonishingly good production values.

Tim: And you know, I actually quite like it, in the sense of, “Ooh, that works. I’d not thought it would.” It’s a weird combination, but arguably no more so than symphonic metal, and that’s brilliant if you’re in the mood for it. Maybe it’s the novelty that keeps me listening, but the violin has a fairly soothing effect on top of the harsh dubstep grinding so I can listen to it easily enough.

Tom: It doesn’t last for me. Maybe I’m just used to pop tracks with vocals? It’s nice, I guess, but it needs to be the soundtrack to something else.

Tim: Perhaps, and I suppose that might be where the aforementioned production values come into it – if you’re standing in pouring rain, or surrounded by fire, or in the middle of an ice cave, you could just let the music accompany the scenery.

She herself was on America’s Got Talent a few years back; got through to the quarter-finals even though apparently Piers Morgan wasn’t a fan, and has since then gone on to do lots – she even has her own iPhone app, so that told him.

Tim: True, but so does T-Pain. That’s no guarantee of quality.

Tom: Hmm. Fair point, so as an actual indicator of quality, you could know that along with quite a lot of original violin dubstep stuff, she also does regular violin covers of various songs, some of which are worth a listen, and apparently does funny videos as well, though I’m not interested enough to check those out. So there you go.

Dada Life – Happy Violence

I’m not sure what it’s got.

Tim: Right. Yesterday I said I liked dubstep if it was done well. This has been sent in by reader Martijn, and it’s time to test that. But first, don’t watch it at work if you’re an investment banker.

Tom: With the title of “Happy Violence”, I was really hoping that the shocked bankers’ reactions at one minute into the video would be in response to a gunman entering the building, God Bless America-style. Alas, ’twas not to be.

Tim: Hmm. I’m conflicted here. Because, I really don’t know whether I like it or not. Its got— well, actually I’m not sure what it’s got.

Tom: Well, it starts all off Jean Michel Jarre, but rapidly becomes a bass-heavy dance number. But this is not dubstep, not by a long way – it’s far too fast, and far too light.

Tim: Not properly, no, but I wouldn’t say it’s a long way off – there are definite elements of it in the post-chorus instrumental bit, and for me it’s that that sticks out.

I can’t put into words anything I like about it, and if I was analysing it piece by piece it would all be negative. But somehow, there’s just a glimmer of something in there, I think, which means that…oh, I don’t know. What do you think?

Tom: It’s a middle-of-the-DJ-set track, in the manner of Justice or a few other similar acts – nothing that’s going to trouble the pop charts, but certainly a decent effort.

Tim: Actually, you know what? I don’t like it. I think it’s best if we just leave this sort of stuff for middle-eights for now.

Håkan Lidbo feat. Jessica Folcker & Cleo – Electric

Blimey, I’d have hated this last year.

Tim: Brace yourself, because if I heard this on the radio my initial instinct would be to throw the radio out of the window. It is, on first hearing, roughly as far out of our comfort zone as we could go short of ending up in Miss Trunchbull’s chokey.

Tom: Have you seen Matilda the Musical recently, by any chance?


Tom: Doesn’t all chalk do that? Oh, wait. On its own. Right.

Tom: Blimey, I’d have hated this last year. Dubstep – and all the associated electro genres that it’s dragged with it, ‘cos this sure as hell isn’t pure dubstep – has got its way into my head.

Tim: It first appeared as an interval act in a Melodifestivalen heat earlier this year, and was the point at which I realised I needed the loo. But on hearing this again three months later, my musical tastes have been mushed around enough that I actually like it. I know I said last week that I was bored of SUMMER ANTHEM CHOONS, but this is (currently) so far away from generic that I think it’s great.

Tom: I wouldn’t have counted it as an anthem until it goes to traditional four-on-the-floor at 1:45 – at which point I reckon I could dance to it.

Tim: Underneath the dubstep, every now and again you can hear echoes of the original Electric by Leila K from 1995 that this is a vague cover of (made slightly obvious by the somewhat misleading shout of ‘Leila K in the house’), and, well, that sounded quite ahead of its time back then, much as this sounds today. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of next year’s club tunes sounded like this. That’s not a bad thing, mind – as long as they’re not almost exactly like this.

Tom: I’ve got to admit, though: I don’t really like the track. I love the backing and the style, but the vocals and melody do nothing for me. Which is a shame, because there’s a great song in there waiting to come out.

Tim: Well, give it twelve months. By the way, I don’t suppose you can tell me which early-00s dance tune the backing not-drum bit that occasionally occurs, including 3:18-3:21, reminds me of, can you? It’s annoying me.

Tom: Not a clue, other than “generic dance tune”.

Tim: Fair enough.

Adam F – When The Rain Is Gone

This is it: dubstep is mainstream now.

Tom: This is it: dubstep is mainstream now. All Around The World, makers of the Clubland compilations, are releasing it. And as you might expect, it’s been toned down, sanitised, and made commercial.

Tom: This is, in short, dubstep without the classic “wub wub wub” effect. And – I never thought I’d say this – I miss those wubs. Without them, this is just a bit of a lame, slow dance track. It’s as if the bass has been turned off – which, in a way, it has.

Tim: Hmm. I don’t know – I’m watching this on a train, and the 3G signal went just as the opening bit finished. I was a bit ‘ooh, not going to like this’, but when it came back and he pushed the play button on his iPod I was pleasantly surprised. I think there’s even a tune in there.

Tom: Let me point you at this remix. Okay, so the video just has static graphics rather than girls kissing, but at least it has some oomph to it. And it turns out I’m completely used to dubstep’s Transformers-having-a-seizure style now, because this sounds good to me. Compare that to the two-year-ago version of me which despised dubstep. Simply put, my ears have adjusted.

Tim: I suppose you may have a point – there’s a whole time and place thing, where if it’s the right time and the right place it works. And you’re right – that remix does sound better. A tad less appealing for me in general, but as a full song it’s a bit more rounded and complete.

Tom: The really weird thing? That remix still doesn’t have enough bass for me. MORE BASS.

Tim: Like this?

Tom: That’s why you should never go fishing with Skrillex. He always drops the bass.

Sub Focus – Falling Down

“Help me, Tim. I’m appreciating dubstep.”

Tom: Help me, Tim. I’m appreciating dubstep.

Tom: I heard this on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show last week, and… well, I can’t explain it.

Tim: Well, I’m a minute and twenty seconds in and so far I think it’s gr- oh, hang on.

Tom: I thought I couldn’t stand dubstep – but somehow, as it’s started to cross over into the mainstream, it’s wormed its way into my head. It’s started to mutate into this kind of pop-dubstep thing that maintains that bass wub wub wub while not completely alienating the public at large.

Tim: Well, the standard dance stuff that’s more than a tad reminiscent of Pjanoo is okay – but those two sections where it all breaks down are just, well, pretty dire.

Tom: Yes, a couple of those wub wub wubs are absolutely ridiculous (the ones that sound like Elmer Fudd stuttering), but setting those aside it’s somehow listenable.

Tim: Okay, main question: what have you done with my Tom Scott? And what are you demanding for his return? I’ll go up to fifty pence, but after that you can keep him.

Tom: What’s wrong with me?

Tim: I don’t know, but I might me persuaded to go up to sixty if you only torture him a little bit.

Nero – Promises

Not remotely in our comfort zone, but I think we should discuss this.

Tim: Now, I know this is not remotely in our comfort zone, but since you recently claimed you ‘must be getting used to dubstep’ and this prime example went straight to the top of the UK charts last week (albeit with the lowest sales of a number one single in almost two years), I think we should at the very least discuss this.

Tim: Because as it happens, I really like it. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a style that’s perhaps become more mainstream than the dubstep that was around a year ago, or because it’s just a question of getting used to it – God knows it’s gets played enough at work when any of my colleagues hijack the speakers – or perhaps just changing musical tastes, but I do really like it.

Tom: I think it’s all of those. Dubstep is becoming more mainstream (purists, no doubt, would argue that this barely counts), and we’re becoming more used to its sound. It’s like Dylan going electric, only much, much worse.

Tim: Much, much worse, you think? The vocal comes with a pitch and tone that make it somewhat charming, with a chorus perhaps described as ethereal, were I tempted to use a fancy word like that.

Tom: It’s a bit La Roux, in a very good way.

Tim: Mind you, the sounds that lie under the vocal probably wouldn’t be up to much without it, but the instrumental bits when the music’s there on its own are very enjoyable. I definitely like this. My name’s Tim, and I like this track.

Tom: My name’s Tom, and I like this track too.

Tim: Actually, I’ve just listened to Innocence, a Nero track from last April. I think it’s a combination of ‘used to it’ and ‘more mainstream’, because that one is manageable but not hugely enjoyable. Most importantly, my musical tastes seem to be as ever they were, so this site won’t be changing any time soon.