Numan - Race Against Time
Reviewed by Andrew Ryce Source: (Resident Advisor)
In the past year or so there's been a lot of talk around the phrase "post-dubstep.'" Usually it just refers to the bright strains of garage revival coming out of the UK as produced by Joy Orbison and his league of gentlemanly followers. Which is, in some form or another, something now often referred to as "future garage." So where does that leave post-dubstep, then? Are we really post-dubstep; is dubstep over, is it being replaced? Does it need to be?
While he can't provide an answer to these questions, strangely enough Mancunian upstart Numan provides Planet Mu with one of the most intriguing manifestos yet for something that could be called post-dubstep. Numan is still developing his sound—as evidenced by the scattershot nature of the four tracks here—but in the unleavened mix dubstep and especially grime mingle without reservation. Numan's tunes are cartoonish and oversized; there's no intricate syncopation or vast, endless echo chambers here, just lifelike samples and memorable melodies. Most of the time, this works to his advantage. "Race Against Time" has strange, music-box harps chirping away as rhythmic support as an accordion steamrolls the main melody.
The brief "XX" is Numan's take on Butterz-style 2010 instrumental grime, funky pretzel-twisted chiptune riffs grinding against a bassline with a snarling aggression that comes somewhere from the deepest dungeons of dubstep's most shameful regions. The EP hits its stride with the lovely "Photograph," however, a track that takes attention away from its gimmickry (using shutter sounds as beats) by virtue of its uncommon grace. The only time Numan falls flat is on "Voodoo," whose violin riff sounds transparently fake and devoid of anything at all interesting. There are better things you can listen to than a computer playing a violin, and it so happens the rest of Numan's fantastic, post-genre EP is not a bad place to start.
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