Skream’s debut album Skream! is a record rich in texture, with a wide range of influences, moods and styles. After all, how many other albums feature a violin hook, a bongo beat, sporadic lasers and a closing trumpet on the first track?
The tense beginnings of Tortured Soul are interrupted by a caller to a radio show, asking for a new beat on the Request Line. It’s a simple yet brilliant start to an otherwise instrumental song that welcomes us to the world of dubstep. If you remember, we explored dub earlier on our musical adventure. Dub grew out of reggae and was a predominantly instrumental form, quite slow and experimental, that removed the vocals to concentrate more on the bass and the drums. Dubstep feels very similar, but the percussion is more danceable which I guess is where the step comes in. The majority of songs on the album are in this mould, focussing around a central melody.
A famous feature of dubstep is the sub bass wobble like that in the latter half of Blue Eyez and leading you through Stagger and Rutten. The deep, dirty sound of the bass contrasts well with the lighter, cleaner brass instruments to create an interesting balance. It’s easy to see why the music is great to club to, particularly with the snippets of vocal, climaxes and occasional laser blasts.
My highlights of the album however come where the album veers a little away from dubstep: the brash vocals of Warrior Queen on Check-It; the Welsh spliff politics commentary of Rutten; and the mesmerising synthline of Emotionally Mute.
My favourite song on the record is the appropriately titled Summer Dreams. The tinkering of (Pimm’s) glasses and background chatter form a beautiful garden party scene. Blue skies, long evenings with friends and a relaxed feeling of calm. You can imagine a little jazz band playing the song under a marquee late into the afternoon.