And I know you won’t… But what it is, is the missing link between dubstep, dancehall, hip hop, techno and middle-eastern rhythms. Sub Swara is what it’s called. And even then, it’s more than it seems, being both title of a crew and their name for the evening that they host at NYC’s Love bar. Brilliant is their laid-back star, and the bass wobbles, anchoring deep tabla grooves and spinning middle-eastern melodies of such richness Hamza el-Din would be astonished, Merzbow in shock and of course Marcus has them on lock. Two years in the making, Coup d’Yah, the crew’s latest effort, unleashes the devastating bass-weighted sound which has become the recognized trademark of the crew’s eponymous NYC club night and its blazing live sets. Coup spans a broad spectrum, from the dub-wise depths to dancefloor crushing bangers.
And they’ve carved a unique global footprint, leading with heavy ragga inflection, thick beats, wide basslines, and live organic instrumentation ranging from the drums and wind instruments of India to the marching horns of New Orleans. The album showcases the signature vocal talents of Zulu (Ghislain Poirier, DJ C), MC Coppa (Al Haca, Stereotyp) Napoleon Solo (Ming & FS), and Sub Swara’s own rising star Juakali (Sub Swara, Kush Arora, Pinch, D1 and more).
While I could wax philosphic, others already have. Their MySpace gets at their ethos properly:
‘Electronica has been reinvigorated as barriers between fiercely guarded genres continue to come crashing down, whether it’s Flying Lotus and Samiyam’s messy marriage of hip hop and electronica or house, techno and electro collapsing in on each other. Sub Swara is a New York club night and label that’s been running since 2005 and is frequented by pioneering producers such as Hank and Keith Shocklee of The Bomb Squad. Sub Swara’s debut LP Coup d’Yah (Low Motion Records) showcases what the night and its collective of DJs, producers, vocalists and instrumentalists are about: the track Infiltrate floats filtered tablas over jagged two-step bass; the brooding Alabaster Dub places subcontinental horns and kathak classical dance rhythms with snares and dhols; Belgrade Riddim playfully chops up marching band brass with slinky percussion; Banga ties ragga to trampolining bassline; The Balance is rolling, fidgety bhangra-bashment; and Koli Stance morphs from hypnotic tabla-funk into a gnarly, stomping banger. Coup d’Yah is a clean sonic draw on Indian instruments, electronica, dub and dancehall but beyond that, it’s 21st-century global basstronica. It sounds exceptionally fresh and relevant.’ -Rahul Verma, Metro UK
Or, as the legendary Mary Anne Hobbs, who helped put dubstep on the map with her rad BBC show, puts it:
‘Sub Swara deals with the most fascinating melt of sound – beats and bass laced with the elemental voice of Juakali…pure heaven…The Sub Swara mix was devastating – contender for mix of the year on the BBC Radio 1 show for real.’ – Maryanne Hobbs, BBC Radio 1
Even more propers from her mates at BBC Radio 1:
“The Sub Swara collective tosses a monthly party at Love, a club that boasts perhaps the clearest sound system in the city. That might account for the crew’s obsession with detail; Coup d’Yah is a sonically crystalline collection, with every drum hit sharp as a knife and each bassline deep as a canyon. But the real appeal of the album lies in the way it melds its dancehall and dubstep inclinations with Middle Eastern melodies, subcontinental percussion and ragga-style toasting into a spare, dark stew, with its precise arrangements keeping the focus on the funk.”
Good goodness, but the best part is this…