By buzz_clik 59 Comments
WARNING: I'm probably about to come across as a total dubstep hipster, and in all likelihood one not as informed as he likes to think. Also, to be fair, I don't mind laughing at the world of dubstep, and I don't mind laughing off the people who laugh at dubstep. Man, that was rambling bollocks. Let's all just forget it and kick this off with some Dubstep Hipster Cat, shall we?
It's been interesting/weird/a bit of a bummer to watch dubstep fall into the clutches of popular media. I'm not saying this because I think it's a sacred art form that the masses shouldn't have access to because they don't get it. Nope, I just fret that the crazy oversaturation of the genre will leave me bored and sick of the sound of something I once enjoyed so much.
I've loved dubstep for years now (there, I've ripped that hipster band-aid right off) and, while I don't think I'm as immersed in the culture as some others, I'm pretty sure I'm well-versed enough to launch into this rant. Sure, I'm not really into things like Burial, which is what many alleged purists will swear is the only form of dubstep that matters (and bless them for making sure I'm not the biggest wanker on this topic). I'm more into the bombast that the trappings of the so-called "ravestep" style has to offer, such as the songs of Nero and Metrik.
Speaking of Nero, it's one of their songs that lit the fire under my motherblogging arse on this occasion. You've probably seen the trailer for Borderlands 2 by now, and you may or may not know that the song used is "Doomsday" by the aforementioned dubstep duo. The thing is, we'd already heard that song being used mere days before for another game's trailer, namely Armored Core V.
Herein lies a problem for me. While I certainly don't begrudge Nero the success they're experiencing with their Welcome Reality album – hell, I bought a copy and love it – the worry is that this success is going to lead to their stuff being used every-fucking-where. And when that happens, it's obvious that the impact is diminished. Same thing goes for 16Bit's awesome remix of Noisia's "Machine Gun" which was used in the Far Cry 3 trailer and... oh, somewhere else, I forget now. Side note: GUYS, I CAN'T WAIT TO PLAY FAR CRY 3
So high profile acts are (deservedly) taking their place in the spotlight, meaning they've caught the ear of game companies wanting to pimp their own product. How is this a bad thing? Well, apart from crushing us all under the weight of a relentless barrage of fat drops, to me it just seems lazy and pandering, especially now that the same songs are starting to appear in separate trailers. For my money it just makes the software companies look a bit "me too" and less clued-in than they want to appear. I'd have less of a problem with this whole dubstep-is-in-every-trailer phenomenon if they were picking dubstep tunes that people didn't know about and hadn't heard before.
Dubstep's recent rise within gaming and wider culture has also led to people labelling anything with big, fuck-off industrial beats and wibble-wobble bass (including Nero's "Doomsday") as "dubstep" so I'll just give you a quick rundown. Dubstep is not the name of the sound, although the different subgenres do have their distinct traits. Dubstep is not electro house, breakbeat or drum 'n' bass that uses the same instruments. It's also not the easy-to-confuse-with-dubstep style of drumstep. Dubstep is usually around 140bpm, with the main snare hit typically coming on the third beat of each bar, and a bar in this case usually being groups of four beats... but now I'm probably coming across as really fucking patronising, so it's probably time to wrap things up.
This blog was a lot more "vomit onto page" than the blogs I usually like to post, so sorry if it comes across a bit long-winded and disjointed. To conclude, I'm going to put forth some dubstep tunes that I think would make cracking alternatives for game companies, should a dubstep soundtrack be completely unavoidable for the trailer you're making:
"Raise Your Weapon (Noisia Remix)" by Deadmau5 - Yes, I know I've just railed against well-known acts stealing all the glory, but I don't think this tune is as well known as other songs written by either party involved. A beautiful-yet-sinister slice of greatness, I always imagine this in the trailer for some scorched-earth-space-marine kinda game.
"Armored Core" by Reso - Wouldn't this be a no-brainer for... oooh, I don't know, AN ARMORED CORE TITLE?
"Dirty Disco" by Zomboy - This one's pretty Skrillex-y, but I still love it to bits. Fun tune.
"Chutney Grip" by Schema - A hard hitting, tightly-wound little gem. I always imagine imagine mechs fucking shit up when I hear this song.