Plump DJs' Fat Breakbeats and Joker's Comic-Book Dubstep
Plump DJs—England's Andy Gardner and Lee Rous—rank among the elite producer/DJs of nu skool breaks, a subgenre with deep roots in big beat—the mid-'90s movement that spawned Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Headrillaz, Propellerheads, and other (mainly) British artists who fed wicked funk samples steroids and speed and proceeded to rock parties harder than a motherfucker. Such a rambunctiously hedonistic style rarely lasts for long, and by the late '90s, many of big beat's major proponents decided to leave those rowdy trappings behind and focus on "mature," album-oriented careers.
Anyway, Gardner gained a rep for his productions on Freskanova Records as Bowser and Cut & Paste, and later for hosting the Passenger club night in London, a flash point for the resurgent breaks scene of the early '00s. Building momentum throughout this decade with the A Plump Night Out mix, the duo found favor with tastemakers like Chemical Brothers, Pete Tong, and Sasha and started getting choice assignments on the order of remixing Orbital's "Funny Break (One Is Enough)." Along with loads of club-friendly singles, Plump DJs have released acclaimed albums Eargasm, Saturday Night Lotion, and Headthrash.
Plump DJs' tracks typically ride lascivious, distorted bass lines and beats that splat with almost slapstick force, over which they spray cheeky vocal hooks and outlandish high-frequency effects. It's music geared to make you dance as vigorously as it is to make you smile; their track "Squeeks & Bleeps" could practically be a mission statement.
Fellow Brit Joker (aka L. McLean), ironically, is not as blatantly cheery as Plump DJs. The Bristol-based producer emerged in 2007 from the UK's grime and dubstep crucibles with a sound that's both street-tough and glittery—a sound that hits like a diamond-studded truncheon. Known for his Prince-like love of purple, Joker has risen to dubstep notoriety by winning the respect of some of the genre's most discerning DJs, including Skream, Pinch, Plastician, and Kode9 (for whose Hyperdub Records Joker occasionally records).
Joker's productions bear dubstep's serious low-end pressure, but they move and sparkle with a lightness that's anything but ponderous, as much of the genre's output can be. His melodies possess a sort of comic-book vividness (and, at times, melodrama), coming over alternately ominous and whimsical, but always memorable; check out "City Hopper" for explicit proof. Joker's very young and still developing, but he's already showing exceptional promise amid dubstep's fertile grow bed.
Plump DJs perform Thurs Nov 19, Trinity, 9 pm, free, 21+ (w/ Sir Kutz!, Kreeper); Joker performs Tues Nov 24, War Room, 10 pm, $10, 21+ (w/ MC Nomad, Sublo, Introcut).