Skrillex: ruining dubstep for everyone since 2010. I’ll put my hands up and admit that I did enjoy him on my first couple of listens, but it’s quickly become clear that his repertoire consists entirely of abrasive wobble-bass. Thankfully, while the explosion of mainstream dubstep sounds pretty stale, there are still some artisan producers out there taking it in a more innovative direction. London-based James Blake springs to mind, and London-based Ben Ash (Two Inch Punch). Now we have London-based Bobby Tank to add to that roster. Looks like you’d best leave this scene to London, America – we’re the original, and we’re still the best.
Where listening to Skrillex is sort of like scratching the inside of your windpipe with a serrated knife, listening to Bobby Tank is more like spreading chocolate on yourself and kicking back on a chaise longue. In fact, the only real difference from that is that in real life, rather than kicking back, it makes you want to move your feet. Like Blake and Ash, he eschews filtered saw bass in favour of a smoother, deeper sound – rather than relying on a gimmick to get the frat boys waving their beers in the air, he goes for this old-school thing called groove.
Nowhere is that more apparent than on one of his many stand-out tracks, “Sexy Thang”. A more appropriate title has quite possibly never been used before. While his latest numbers have mainly sat in low-tempo dubstep territory, his earlier tracks – “Sexy Thang” included – have a very definite disco and French electro influence. His favourite musician is Michael Jackson; his favourite musical era is the ’80s (just look at the artwork). There are moments in amongst the vocal slices and slap bass samples when you could almost be listening to Justice or Daft Punk. And I’m talking “Discovery” era, here.
Bobby Tank bears almost as much similarity to the sliced-and-diced glitch-hop of Young Montana? as he does to his fellow Londoners, and above all it’s this that makes me so excited to hear more from him. He’s taking dubstep in a new direction (albeit one that’s very conscious of its roots). We’ve tried infinite monkeys; it’s time to let some musicians take over. Add to that the fact that when he feels like it he can unleash synth symphonies worthy of M83, and you have yourself one helladelicious musical pie.
Label talks are apparently in progress as I write, so given that and the straight-up quality of the tracks, expect to hear a lot more from Bobby over the coming months. You can stream a generously large selection of his tracks below, but I urge you to follow up the links for more. I have almost nothing bad to say about him, other than that it’s a shame he didn’t name himself Booby Tank. Now that would be a sexy thang.