Malazan is a difficult producer to pin down. Dubstep appears to be settling into three or four sounds; the pitch-black minimalism, the more overtly sine-wave dubby flavors, or the jump-up wobblers that Caspa and Rusko specialize. But Malazan flits between all and none of these approaches; the result, perhaps, of him being such a restlessly active producer. So the track “Signal Jammer” is yet another of his tunes heavy with outside influences and one foot inside the tribal onslaught. It’s a slow and lonely place, this arrangement, but it’s often thrilling in its dead-eyed, twitchy intensity.
Malazan can make his synths talk like few others, and on “Signal Jammer” they speak in tongues, the frayed bassline sounding like garbled radio transmissions, while the steady percussion pushes the song along. This is an eclectic creation pitched between euphoria and melancholy.
On the one hand, the track follows the standard template of Dubstep tunes since time immemorial. On the other hand, you’re continually struck by a sense of an artist trying to do something different, to push at the boundaries of his chosen genre, to see how the apparently uncommercial sound of dubstep might be adapted to achieve some kind of crossover success.
For those of you who would be hard-pressed to call any music that includes Dubstep elements, not so much a piece of music as a splitting headache waiting to happen, will be surprised at how smartly Malazan has mixed those elements into this steady slow-burner.
Without of course totally removing its effects. But nevertheless, it’s pretty clear what Malazan is up to for large chunks of the single: taking elements from dubstep and trying to apply them to other influences. It’s a tough call – a vast lacuna separates dubstep from what’s happening on the regular electronic playlists – but Malazan’s approach to bridging it, is subtle and beguiling.
There are moments where he pulls off the difficult feat with total aplomb, making “Signal Jammer” a lovely elaborate mesh-work of electronic tones, where the energy is reined in at safe, conservative levels for everybody to love – not just Tribal or Dubstep fanatics.