News Magnetic Man - Magnetic Man

A paean to be enjoyed by fans of a plethora of dance genres.

Tense wires of strings shift the almost static vertical moves of xylophone-like tones, from the deep grooves of cello to the flighty violins, and we’re on a journey of somewhat epic ambitions in opening track ‘Flying Into Tokyo’. It may not quite be the way we’d expected the three-way meeting of minds that makes up Magnetic Man to introduce their metropolis of beats for their eponymous debut, but the juxtaposition of melody, classicism and instrumentals in an otherwise urban domain is just what dubstep may have been lacking; and perhaps what is now seeing Artwork, Benga and Skream branded as ambassadors for ‘accessible’ dub.

But even in their orchestral beginnings, there is a mood being created that is, arguably, what all dub has in common – bleak, coolness, a tension born of the concrete jungle. Essentially what we know as ‘urban’ sounds. As the flecks of xylophone reappear in closer ‘Getting Nowhere’, for all the soul encrusted in guest John Legend’s vocals, there remains very little in the way of warmth. As with ‘Karma Crazy’ – one of the albums handful of purely instrumental affairs – it seems the stark strings are going to prove the mainstay again. That is until they’re whipped (almost visibly) by lashings of unforgiving, subwoofer-rumbling, broken beats. These dividing markers make the bowed emphasis even more apocalyptic. And, of course, fabulous.

Dancefloor belle du jour, Katy B, adds the smoothness to Magnetic Man, her light-weight approach to vocals echo like crystal for the drum n bass inflected ‘Perfect Stranger’, where the group slant towards synths make it more of a crossover, synth-step almost. And, as with her turn on ‘Crossover’, these are tracks designed for ladies to dance to: After all, dubstep by its fairly vicious, screw-face inducing nature isn’t usually the sexiest of genres. Thankfully with Katy B and the silver-tongued Angela Hunte (‘I Need Air’ vocalist) there are softer sides to these boys.

The same can’t really be said of ‘Fire’, where Ms Dynamite backed by squelchy synths puts on her best Alesha Dixon, ragga-dialect for her rap. It’s the sort of thing that sounds mahoosive in a club and very mean. Similarly we’re dragged into heavy, electro-static sounds for ‘K Dance’, far less accessible until the rinse out and return of the final minute – a pure ecstatic drop. Then there’s ‘Mad’ that sinks to the depths of the bass layer and attempts to lift it with all manner of effects and a wandering Gameboy-toting riff.

All in all what Magnetic Man represents isn’t quite the pedestal-promotion of dub to shake the masses across its 14 tracks, as some might have been imagining. Rather, what Skream, Benga and Artwork have erected is a paean to be enjoyed by fans of a plethora of dance genres - from all corners of the dance universe. Their lack of rigidity here could be the greatest triumph.

Tags: Magnetic Man, Reviews, Album Reviews

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Skream - Anticipate

A step towards the current chart market with clunking synth, and the obligatory drop.

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