Starkey: Orbits

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Skrillex might have turned dubstep into the most maligned and ridiculed genre almost overnight, and with bro and international school kid-friendly trap becoming ever more the genre du jour, it’s not a stretch to claim dubstep has run its course as a genre. All is not loss though, Starkey – whose musical DNA is fragmented to grime, dubstep, 2-step crunk, and trap (together dubbed as street bass by him) – has crafted an album that occasionally saves the genre by sidelining it as a fragment to the total sum of his influences (just listen to ‘Command’).

However third album Orbit is not just indebted to Starkey’s love for the Dirty South’s production styling, auto-tune, and bassy genres, but also Blade Runner composer Vangelis. ‘Magnet’ opens up like a love child of Kraftwerk and Vangelis before it crescendos and (suddenly) drops to a more ambient auto-tuned dirge about lost frequencies and other vaguely sci-fi jargons. But of course the track’s third act goes operatic again – this is not a contemplative hard sci-fi flick, it’s a bleeping space opera.

Starkey’s tendency for vacillating between slower, down tempo atmosphere and big, hard sounds is most evident on the 2-parter ‘G V Star (Part 1)’ and ‘G V Star (Part 2)’. The former is a calm, ambient track with Starkey singing over xylophone and cello before it goes jarring with the 2nd part, in which Starkey’s sparse sci-fi ambitions decide to go techno bro.

The dichotomy gets distracting a little too often, it doesn’t help that the record fumbles worst when the MO is to make the crowd go cray. ‘Dystopia’ is almost unbearable, a trap tune with what sounds increasingly like repeated synthesised farts. Perhaps it’s time for Starkey to retire some of his more obsolete influences – extremity has lost in the loudness war, the louder you think you should go, the blander you sound.

LISTEN TO: ‘Magnets’, ‘G V Star’, ‘LZR’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: Slugabed, Ital Tek, Silkie

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