Meditating on bass weight … and feeling nostalgic. Came across this collection whilst looking to get hold of some of Hijak’s back catalogue. This is a compilation of some of Deep Medi’s earliest releases, going back to 2006, which highlights the quality of its output and one to don the rose-tinted glasses to and remember how good it sounded back then.
Deep Medi is dubstep godfather Mala’s label which over the years has knocked out some of the genre’s finest moments. Their 12″s are wonderfully collectible, featuring hand-sketched portraits of the artist on the wax. The term ‘genius’ is over-used and often just means ‘someone whose music I really like’, but if I was going to apply it to any producer of the last decade it would be to Mala. It’s simply not possible to find a duff track in his catalogue, it’s not in the man’s musical vocabulary. Jazz-tinged, soulful but carrying a heavy dread menace, just at home in a smoky room at 3am or crowded dance-floor, Mala’s music is the perfect example of the hardcore continuum in the first decade of the millennium, taking the influences of 1940’s jazz, reggae and UK rave and spitting them back out as something uniquely British and modern. It’s impossible to pick a favourite but the two on the Deep Medi compilation are superb. There’s a brilliant podcast around on soundcloud, which features Mala playing some of his own tunes and those which influenced him to an enraptured Giles Peterson, that gives you a good flavour of what he’s all about.
Deep Medi releases Vol. 1 is a reminder of a time when the name dubstep meant something, when it wore its reggae and dub influences on its sleeve (check the two Hijak tunes), when it was soulful as well as guttural (check Mala), when it was proper menacing instead of sounding like the soundtrack to a game on miniclip (check Kromestar), and when a wobble bass did what it ought and sounded brutal, dark and exciting, underpinned by resonant sub-frequencies that were inaudible on cheap speakers and found their fullest expression on a top sound-system like Plastic People’s, rattling chests and melting faces (check Coki, Loefah Goth Trad). As the inlay for Soul Jazz’s Steppa’s Delight reads, “listen on your laptop and like the sonic version of an iceberg, nine tenths of the tune will be inaccessible, lost underneath a pair of tinny speakers” – a fact which seems lost on many of today’s bedroom producers making mid-range cack for laptop speakers and ipod earphones.
Right, I’m off for a cup of tea and a few episodes of ‘grumpy old men’. In the meantime, enjoy these …