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Shackleton, Kode 9 & Spaceape, Rhythm & Sound @ SAT

Posted by Scott / June 1, 2007

kode-9-and-spaceape-tristan-dacunha-2.jpgAh, Mutek. Where else can so many disaffected people find community?

Mutek's Thursday night’s Nocturne performances focussed on international dubstep artists, bringing out enough deep bass to shake the crack dens right out of lower St-Laurent, and knock street signs sideways like loose teeth.

Dubstep, for the uninitiated, is a relatively newish sub-genre of electronic music, taking inspiration from reggae dub, UK 2-Step and Garage music. Dubstep is typically mid-tempo (read: more head-nodding than glowstick-waving), and combines minimalist arrangements and syncopated percussion over phenomenally deep bass tones that seem to pull all the air from the room. It is a very physical sound, and if the crowd at the SAT is any indication, greatly enjoyed by its enthusiasts.

And I mean greatly enjoyed...

I arrived when Shackleton was on stage. Playing albums on the double decks (seemingly with an effects unit adding even more reverb and delay on shots), Shackleton’s set was deep and wide. He played throbbing numbers that combined hundreds of cicadas playing ping-pong in the high-frequencies, and a thousand helicopters taking off in the sub bass range. Again, it was a very physical experience.

Next up were dubstep pioneers Kode 9 and The Spaceape. Kode 9 manned the turntables and the laptop while Spaceape patrolled the front of the stage, speak-singing reverb-heavy lines into the mic. With all the lights off and the claustrophobic bass sounds expanding into all open space, the SAT became one enormous subwoofer. Kode 9 and Spaceape’s pieces are like the soundtrack to an oncoming, very funky, apocalypse – dark, syncopated, and heeeeaaaaavy. The bass, at times, was so intense I could feel my nose-ring shaking loose. Whoa. This set was the highlight of the night, and was met with enthusiastic cheering from the very sweaty crowd.

Last on Thursday’s Nocturne bill were dub DJs Rhythm & Sound, with Paul St-Hilaire handling the mic duties. Their set was more traditional electronic dub – slower, thicker, and more clearly influenced by the reggae sound than the previous acts. They churned out reverberating, minimal electro stuff, driven forward by the sheer heft of the bass thrum. The crowd thinned somewhat during Rhythm & Sound’s set, which allowed for more free-swinging limbs for those who remained.

After getting a slow groove-on for a while, I finally took my leave of the SAT and wandered into the misty night air, stepping around overturned cars and sidewalks buckled from so much bass. A great night, and I would guess, a great introduction to the dubstep sound for many in attendance.

(Photo courtesy of Tristan Dacunha's Flickr Stuffs).



J Mac / June 1, 2007 at 03:08 pm
Wow, I'm surprised I didn't read more reports of the damage this show inflicted upon the city's infrastructure. Do earplugs even help when the bass tones are shattering your entire body instead of just your eardrums?
scott / June 1, 2007 at 03:47 pm
i actually just used some of the internal organs that had been vibrated loose, and jammed them in my ears. it helped a little.
FX / June 1, 2007 at 04:32 pm
Shame I missed this. How much on the Richter scale? 5.9 (Can cause major damage to poorly constructed buildings over small regions. At most slight damage to well-designed buildings.)?
scott / June 1, 2007 at 04:45 pm
the bass frequencies were SO extreme, they filled in all the city's potholes, and managed to also crush the dreams of unicorns worldwide. so sad, seeing jaded unicorns.
rrrobyn / June 1, 2007 at 04:57 pm
hahaha awesome
i heard rainbows and dragons didn't do so well either
hosta / June 1, 2007 at 09:50 pm
My skull was rattling in the best way possible. Who knew they were going to be giving out free bass massages?
scott / June 2, 2007 at 12:44 pm
all your bass are belong to us.
rrrobyn / June 3, 2007 at 01:35 pm
in yr bass rupturin all yr organs
scott / June 3, 2007 at 01:45 pm
o rlly???
rugsucka / June 8, 2007 at 12:46 pm
Kode9 stole the show. Shackleton was very good playing deep (in more ways than one) tracks mixing them well and only had a few mixes crash or bring on the thundering elephants. I know why people thinned out during R&S --- because they could not compete with Kode9's killar set. I'm not a huge dub step fan, but was glad to hear a change up in artist genres for MUTEK.
scott / June 8, 2007 at 03:09 pm
right on. i think you nailed it. i, for one, would not have wanted to follow that kode9 / spaceape set. very tough act to follow.

it should also be noted, along with the change-up in artists, Mutek provided an excellent sound system for a show that absolutely required it.
Greg J. Smith / June 9, 2007 at 10:42 am
I don't think rhythm and sound have to compete with Kode 9. They are pretty seminal artists, and Kode 9 and dubstep in general are new kids on the blocks. I suggest some of you cats check out Rhythm and Sound's discography.

I loved the whole night for what it was and just because Rhythm and Sound weren't as bumpin' didn't mean it wasn't as engaging.

I reviewed the festival on my site if anyone is interested.
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