For a musical genre with such a short history (more like a persistent rumor, really), dubstep can already claim a few landmark releases. It’s a tainted claim, however, the same one that plagued drum’n’bass in the 1990s: Only one or two artists and titles rise above the fray (Skream, Burial’s Untrue) while most other big releases are compilations (5 Years of Hyperdub, Soundboy Punishments) pointing out the genre’s painful fragmentation of fame and talent. DJ/Rupture, however, manages to bridge the gap with the help of Matt Shadetek on the widely-sourced yet surprisingly focused Solar Life Raft mix.
Jace Clayton’s star as DJ/Rupture really began to rise with his clever 2008 mix Uproot. While neither that nor this new collaboration with Shadetek were ever truly marketed as pure dubstep, the hallmarks of the genre and its influences are all present. New bass-drop remixes, references to classic reggae sounds, and ghostly echoes of vocals and loops envelop the listener. This is an old-school headphone trip, from the warm, thick production to the live-set feel. To that latter point, Shadetek’s remix of Gang Gang Dance’s “Bebey” features spare drums loops shuffling so hard in opposite directions that it sounds out of time, and its transition to Paavoharju’s “Urusulanuni” (a minute-long bridge itself) is an ambient fade-in cheat.
Solar Life Raft is simply not content with bleeding-edge bass and beeps from the likes of Shackleton or Noah & Roomate. It’s full of perilously placed guitar, horn, and orchestral samples (as in “Underwater High Rise”), as well as mixed-in and mashed-up elements from sources as unlikely as Brooklyn twee-tronica duo Telepathe and poet Elizabeth Alexander. Here, DJ/Rupture illustrates his ability to not just play left field, but dominate his game from a few rows deep in the stands.