Pinch, The Boxer

Illustration by Bill Watterson


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When someone thinks of boxing, it’s likely the iconic image of Muhammed Ali standing over Sonny Liston in 1965 that springs immediately to mind. In many ways, iconic is precisely the position Rob Ellis, aka Pinch, holds in the history of dubstep. As label boss of Bristol’s Tectonic label, he’s been one of the prime movers of the scene and a constant force on it’s evolution. Through the Tectonic Plates compilations and 12″ singles from some of the biggest names in dubstep, he has been instrumental in charting the progress of the sound. But first and foremost he’s a devastating producer in his own right, composer of the mighty “Qawwali,” and the seminal Underwater Dancehall album. Just when his producing talents started to exist only in the distant past, he returns to his iconic stature with the tough and limber The Boxer.

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The track’s title has it’s origins in feedback from Mala of Digital Mystikz who asserted, “This sounds like the boxer warming up for the big fight.” The syncopation percussion of the intro does indeed have an element of a fast and steady heavy bag pummeling. As the large slabs of low-end and thick digital bass dance around the rapid punches there is a grandiose elegance much like the most skilled prizefighters display in the ring. But the only violence you’ll find in “The Boxer” is the damage its bass wrecks upon unguarded eardrums. Darqwan’s remix on the flip keeps most of Pinch’s moodiness intact but twists the bass into a bouncy workout and slices the drumbeat in a more choppy manner. An example of fine remixing, it turns the original on it’s head all the while retaining the essential parts. In a way, Darqwan’s remix is a view from the opponent’s side of a match. The rhythm is slightly different, the dance is reversed, and each jab feels different from the new viewpoint. Depending on which eyes you’re looking out from, both of these sides score their own victories.

tundra  on September 18, 2010 at 1:58 PM

i’m so curious why people are using the word “digital” so much lately to describe a sound’s character…..i mean…what makes a “thick digital bass” a “thick digital bass”? this is a serious question, i graduated in sound design, so i would love to know what people actually mean with this? please email me.

Carlos  on September 21, 2010 at 1:55 AM

tundra, have you listened to this tune?? How else would you describe this main bass line? It’s sounds very digital to me as I’m sure it does to most. It doesn’t sound like a booming bass an instrument could make hence the term digital. I guess you could also have call it synthetic bass.

Jon  on October 1, 2010 at 9:02 AM

Yes but it’s more than just ‘synthetic’ – it has a slightly 8-bit quality, especially with the crunchy, crackly edges the sound has.

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