In somewhat of a departure from my musical norm, I have decided to tackle a release from Feed Me, a popular exponent of the dubstep genre. Often unfairly dismissed as “gen y” music, dubstep has its roots firmly in UK garage, 2 step and drum’n’bass, dating back to the late 90s. Not being overly familiar with the style, I sampled a few new releases online until something interesting caught my ear, and Feed Me was a definite standout.
Feed Me is actually just one musician, Jon Gooch aka Spor, a DJ/producer from Herfordshire England. This is the 5th release by him under this guise since 2008.
Released in early 2012 on fellow DJ Deadmou5e’s Mou5etrap recordings, it features guest appearances from English electro/grime act Hadouken! and mysterious female singer Lindsay.
This is really more of a mini-album than a full length release, featuring six tracks. All six are fairly lengthy, so it clocks in at a reasonably full 31 minutes. Plenty of time to get your groove on!
So. The music. It’s entirely electronic, save for Hadouken! and Lindsay’s vocals on track one “Trapdoor” and track four “Embers” respectively. It’s often been said that electronic music is more about production than composition, however I don’t necessarily subscribe to that theory, and this album certainly flies in the face of such obtuse generalizations. Of course the production is excellent. It is clean and bright and is full of thumping bass content and the dubstep staple, the distorted bass wobble. There are a number of different synth sounds on offer here but they don’t vary excessively over the six tracks, which gives the album a continuity of sorts. Mainstay electronic effects like zings and swooshes are utilized, but not with the annoying frequency of many dance acts and they are used here to successfully create either ascending or descending changes in the musical mood.
Getting back to the composition, it’s obvious that Gooch is an accomplished electronic composer (although I’m unsure of his playing talents), and all the tracks possess carefully constructed melodic lines, incorporating a myriad of different chords, arpeggios and legato flurries. The beats are suitably heavy and groovy and there are enough musical dynamics to prevent it from sounding distastefully slammed with compression. Some of the tracks come across as a little video-gamesy, however this is not necessarily a bad thing, and I quite like it in a nostalgic kind of way. In any case, I’m sure it’s intentional.
Standout tracks are “Embers” which features the aforementioned Lindsay who provides lovely vocals reminiscent of Beth Hirsch. I’d like to find out just who she is as she gives the track a really nice, laid back flavor.
My favorite is the final track “Whiskers” which is probably the busiest of the six on offer. It draws upon the best of dubstep techniques; the distorted bass wobbles, wildly oscillated sine and square wave glissandos, huge beats, well crafted chord and melody progressions, and the ubiquitous zings and swooshes.
If there’s any complaint I have about this work, it’s that some of the tracks get stuck on a particular non-evolving groove for longer than I would have thought necessary, however this could be due to my short attention span! It should also be pointed out that dance music cannot change up too often as it can lead to disorientation for the listener/dancer, particularly if they are possessed of a temporarily expanded consciousness.
This album has enough musical elements to make it an interesting critical or indeed, passive listen, but it also has an inherent driving beat, making it more than suitable for dance floors and extended club plays.
A surprising thumbs up from this reviewer.