Goth-Trad, New Epoch

[Deep Medi Musik]

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Takeaki Maruyama has been carving out a unique interpretation of various electronic music styles for over 10 years. Well known for using a variety of instruments, some of which are self made, there is no one genre in which you can pin him down. New Epoch on Deep Medi is an excellent example of his restless and wide vision. Primarily a pure dubstep album, there are swatches of cinematic techno and twisted electro amongst its deep-bass- and 2-step-based rhythms. It all makes for an exciting examination of where a long established artist can intersect with one of the most popular music styles and subvert it.

While “Man In The Maze,” starts out as a John Carpenter-ish syncopated soundtrack, it quickly morphs into an echo chamber full of mechanical DMZ beats and crusty atmospheres. It outshines similar deep half-step from Kryptic Minds, while retaining an elegance not found in the more dance-oriented dubstep that pervades the scene these days. This is dark, head-nodding music that harkens back to dubstep’s earliest days. “Departure” has the most interesting use of mid range found in a track in recent years. Instead of using the frequency to shred the listeners ears in a semblance of heavy metal, the melody works in concert with the beat but doesn’t overpower it, becoming part of the rhythm. This is part of what makes New Epoch such an interesting take on dubstep, reaching back into the history of the genre to comment on current trends.

Maruyama throws a curveball with the high-energy, electro-laden “Air Breaker,” a song that recalls some of the extreme experiments Skream is well known for. Cut up vocals and a monstrous bass line anchor this seemingly simple track. At once bewildering on the album and also fresh sounding, it breaks up the pace of slow-moving, atmospheric tracks, holding listeners’ interest for the rest of the album. “Babylon Fall,” featuring Max Romeo, is classic roots dubstep, taking its cue from sound systems with a dancehall-tinged beat and soaring vocal turn, similar to recent Horsepower Productions work. The track is cemented by a thunderous bass and skittering percussion to great effect.

Closing out the album with two lovely filmic tracks, “Mirage” and “New Epoch,” Maruyama makes a great case for the continued relevance of classic-sounding dubstep. He shows why there is still life in the darker and more meditative music the genre was built on. “Mirage” presents a bass-loaded track that could be soundtracking a crazy chase through the city, tapping into that late-night headphone experience so many remember. But it’s on the title track where he brings it all together. Bringing back the slow strings and synths of the “Man In The Maze,” he gives the listener a nice bookend, but that’s where the comparison stops. A relentless lurching beat competes with a huge swathes of synths and a more frenetic melody. There is atmosphere, gorgeous pace and composition, unique sound design, but above all, a feeling of place and personality, something sometimes lacking in the current race to have the craziest tracks. The little string breakdown halfway through the song certainly is more exciting than any drop, punching at the heart and giving the song a true emotional arc. It’s a fantastic statement to go out on.

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