When Paul Rose unleashed his SCB alias with a techno remix of his own Scuba tune “Hard Boiled,” it was the techno/dubstep combination taken to its logical extreme: a dubstep producer making actual techno. The result was an intriguing track that made a convincing case for the impact of Rose’s move to Berlin, and it fit quite comfortably with the Marcel Dettmann remix accompanying it on wax. As if to prove it wasn’t just a fluke, Rose has been tenacious as SCB, playing sets and releasing original tracks under the banner. Where SCB separates from Scuba, things get tricky: when Rose remixes dubstep tracks, he has a platter of unique and unusual sounds to graft into his techno. Remixes of “Hard Boiled,” Mount Kimbie’s “Vertical,” and George FitzGerald’s “Don’t You” all incorporated signature elements from those songs into a jacking 4/4 structure. But when he’s building tracks from the ground up, without the thrill of twisting dubstep into liquid techno, the results can fall flat.
The key to Rose’s music as Scuba lies in his uncanny grasp of empty space and vast reverberation, but there’s not nearly as much room to breathe in his techno material. The issue which surfaced on the first SCB release is not as prominent on the second, though that’s primarily because we get another version of “Hard Boiled.” A remix of a remix. This VIP feels more like a do-over, but Rose’s increasing ability — practice makes perfect — justifies any redundancy. Disruptive sound effects and transplanted elements jutted out in harsh angles from the original SCB edit of “Hard Boiled,” a problem nowhere to be seen in the smooth, polished surface of “Hard Boiled VIP.” Slight syncopation prevents trackiness, and every element seems to be in some state of forward motion, pads hurriedly overtaking each other and occasionally breaking out on their own into blissful histrionics. On the flip is another original SCB track, “28_5,” which stays low to the ground for a paranoid bass-oriented workout that sounds more Birmingham than Berlin. A little too low, in fact: Rose keeps the pace blinding with vocal samples fighting their way up through the hectic fervor below, but instead of the blissful ascent of its flipside it drags on the rocky ground. Rose is still somewhat of an outsider looking in, but there’s no denying his techno is growing stronger by the day.