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Dub Nor Bro: SIO Sounds’ “Kabuki”

Part of me hesitates at broaching this subject, yet for the purpose of this post it must be done – lets talk dubstep. Well, assuming we can even agree on a common definition of it. A few years ago, that wouldn’t have been difficult, because “dubstep” referred to a very dark, very British type of music highlighted by artists like Zomby and Burial and Skream and plenty more. Yet dubstep eventually found its way to North American shores and underwent a transformation into something heavier, something loaded with bass and wobble, something a lot of people liked to call “brostep.” That style – still going strong and probably more popular than ever – is highlighted by the likes of Deadmau5 and Skrillex, who I think is now OK for indie people to like because he’s touring with Grimes. I’ve seen people get very passionate about the difference between the two, so even talking about dubstep from a distance intimidates me.

Japan’s SIO Sounds leans closer to the Skrillex school of dubstep – he loves drops, the dubstep equivalent of torching a creme brule – yet his song “Kabuki” doesn’t resemble a typical “brostep” song outside of the drop. Skrillex and similar artists are hyper aggro, prompting a lot of people to embrace their music for weird issues of masculinity. SIO, meanwhile, makes his dance music out of cheap sounding synths and video-game noises, giving his brand of dubstep a softer, child-like vibe that isn’t nearly as confrontational (and, thus, shouldn’t be as divisive) as a Skrillex. What “Kabuki” excels at, though, is being craftily designed – the post-drop stretches featuring great small details (I like the laser sounds that creep in sometimes, or the extra beat that pops up after the second drop). Regardless of what you think of dubstep…and whatever that title means to you…SIO Sounds offers an interesting twist on it, one that should be a uniter not a divider. Listen below.

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Full disclosure – The fact that he uses a Beavis And Butt-Head sample before the drop makes me love this song even more.