Like "post-punk," "post-dubstep" isn't a musical description so much as the definition of a playing field. The main thing uniting this Summer of Speed Rounds' third catch-up round is friskiness. The swarming silvery synths of Joker, for example, have essentially defined dubstep in sinuous party mode, and while "City Hopper"/"Output 1-2" (Tectonic) and especially "Tron" (Hyperdub) aren't necessarily groundbreaking for him, their sheer physicality is still a force to reckon with.
Having made last year's "Hyph Mngo," the breakthrough dubstep track, Joy Orbison has been busy with remixing jobs, and two of his best have been for Four Tet's "Love Cry" (Domino) and Todd Edwards's "I Might Be" (Scion A/V). The former is a clear-eyed swirl that features bouncy keyboards and the oddly soothing vocal stabs that trademark both Four Tet's original and Joy's own tracks; the latter is grainier and more jittery, beat-wise. Meanwhile, Orbison's Hotflush labelmate George FitzGerald follows very closely in the footsteps of "Hyph Mngo" with "The Let Down"/"Weakness," not to its detriment musically, but maybe a little in other ways.
Kingdom feat. Shyvonne's "Mind Reader (L-Vis 1990 Remix)" (Fool's Gold) is one of the year's anthems—the rubbery bass line and truncated background vocal loops so popular right now are present and accounted for, but the beat is more peppery than usual. Both of that track's major parties have put out good music recently: L-Vis 1990 with the very poppy "Forever You" (as songs by club acts go, pretty swell), and from Kingdom, the That Mystic EP (both on Night Slugs), which mixes up fluttery Speak & Spell funk (title track), ravey synths and breakbeats ("Bust Broke"), and darker bass blurt ("Pang") with style.
Romanian Cosmin TRG's "See Other People"/"Groove Control" (Rush Hour) offers a more straightforward space-soul sound, while his Now You Know EP (Tempa) balances out the UK funky inflections with more straightforward house tracks to decent effect. As does New Yorker (and TRG friend) FaltyDL's All in the Place EP (Rush Hour), where the rhythmically skippier "St. Marks," complete with shaky cut-up vocals ("oh, you"), and the steel-drum-glossy and rubber-band-snappy electro "Discoko" stretch the "post" part of post-dubstep to its limits.
FaltyDL's newer Phreqaflex EP (Planet Mu) is breakbeat-driven UK funky with an arty patina that never detracts from the rhythmic business at hand. And the Motor City's Pariah may be tipping his hat to J Dilla with the Temptations and Thelma Houston cut-ups of "Detroit Falls"/"Orpheus" (R&S), but post-dubstep is a mighty big umbrella. Next week: the really art-fucky stuff.