Review: Horsepower Productions – Quest For The Sonic Bounty
07 Dec 10
Recently a genre has kicked down the door to the mainstream; it has strived to piss off parents of teenage boys and flooded the zeitgeist with all kinds of hilarious new slang words. Lock up your daughters, dubstep is in town. It has garnered, perhaps reasonably so, a reputation for being – well, how should I put this? Somewhat shit. The rooms of teenage girls and the dance clubs are shaking with THAT FUCKING BASS, so it’s easy to see why so many people would dismiss it.
However, I call on you to give it another chance. Look at Burial’s ‘Untrue’, in my opinion (and that of Thom Yorke’s) one of the finest electronic albums released last decade. It was moody, finely tuned and weirdly emotional. With its pitch-shifted vocal samples and mesmerising repetition it makes for a highly enjoyable listen; I implore you to listen to it, if only so you know the difference between ‘Untrue’, a very good ‘good’ dubstep album, and Horsepower Production’s ‘Quest for the Sonic Bounty‘, a very average ‘good’ dubstep album.
Now, a little background. Horsepower Productions definitely aren’t jumping on the dubstep bandwagon – as a matter of fact, they helped fashion the dubstep bandwagon. Forming at the start of the millennium, the experimental garage recordings they released would pioneer dubstep as we know it. Benny Ill (or III, or lll, his persona seems to change and frankly if you‘re going to change your second name to any of those I hate you too much to make an effort to get it right) can’t really be blamed for going back to that sound for this record then – it is unmistakeably a dubstep record. That bass is present, even if only in a throbbing, vaguely milder form. The shortest song coming up at the relatively lengthy 3:49, this obviously isn’t an album intended to smash the charts. That said, pop succubus Katy B does make an appearance on the last song, making one ponder whether dear old Benny really is looking for a place in the heart of the legions of thirteen year old boys who will, without irony, describe a song as ‘dirty’ or ‘banging’.
Also noteworthy are the almost Wu-Tang Clan-esque movie samples that are present on many of the tracks. They do little to help the anonymity of the tracks, though. There is very little diversity and they tend to drag a little. I wonder whether conforming a little more to the pop dubstep archetype and reeling back his experimental streak would make Ill less indulgent. Having listened to the album at least twice (what can I say, I do a lot of walking) I can honestly say that I can’t distinctly remember one track from another. The last album I reviewed, Fang Island’s self-titled, suffered from the same problem, but it didn’t matter then – you enjoyed the songs for what they were. It is harder to do that with ‘Quest for the Sonic Bounty’, because it just isn’t as good. It feels like Benny hurt himself making this album. To be honest I wouldn’t have bothered.