Album Review> New York Dubstep Crew Sub Swara Reloads, Pulls Triggers
Sub Swara drops another edition of their South Asian infused dubstep. This time the duo of Dhruva Ganesan and Dave Sharma ventures into other beat styles often within the same track. Their new album Triggers is an experimental permutation of the straightforward style introduced by the New York crew on their debut Coup d’Yah. On Triggers, the crunk, easy flow of dubstep frequently meets four-to-the-floor beats, tribal rhythms, and features guest MCs flowing over glitch hop, a trend that seems to be catching on.
The record opens with something different; a dubstep beat in 3/4 time, sounding dance-y at first but turning out to be headphone music upon closer inspection. This theme carries throughout Triggers. Sub Swara’s production style has palpably matured since their last release and there is more food for thought on this one.
The hip hop element becomes apparent quick, with the boom bap and compounded snare of “October,” immediately followed by a collaboration with Dead Prez, “Speak My Language.” Classically gritty rhymes meet jarring synth-bass to create an effective blend of the two styles.
“Bend You” and “Vagabond Knowledge” each follow the dubstep tempo into quicker beats, slow transitions leading into two-step swing. Immediately following is a track with up-and-comer Freddie Mills laying down two short verses the beat could have done without. His sparse flow does little to bless the hard-hitting, layered chaos of the track.
The most notable MC feature on the album is “Fire It Up” with Lyrics Born. One wonders how Quannum’s soulful, sing-songy rapper will fare over a new school beat, but his adaptable style delivers perfectly. Another bold collaboration is “Bird of Paradise,” bringing part of Antibalas’ horn section in on a track. The result is something like Sub Swara’s remix of “Balkumbia” by Balkan Beat Box, albeit a little less spastic.
Beneath the guest appearances, Sub Swara’s production is growing more sophisticated, yet retains a raw edge with buzz saw melodies and big, compounded drum sounds. The creative chances they take on Triggers more than pay off, pushing dubstep in new directions.
PS. Any production nerd who digs this will want to mess around with the bits and pieces in the Triggers Sound Library that comes with the album.
Want to hear the album? Stream Triggers right here:
Check out the making of the Triggers album: