Dubstep is a fundamentally hybrid genre. The direct evolution from UK garage also draws elements from drum and bass, techno, grime, hip-hop, reggae, jazz, even metal. The genre’s diverse foundations are reflected by its wide stylistic spectrum – dubstep isn’t confined to a specific aesthetic, and aside from explicit genre qualifications, it doesn’t encompass one particular sound. Still, dubstep has grown into itself, and no artists capture its defining essence as comprehensively or recognizably as the London-based DJ/producers Sukh Knight and Squarewave.
Like dubstep itself, Sukh Knight and Squarewave rise from versatile backgrounds. Squarewave was first established in the drum and bass scene; Sukh Knight was a member of the grime collective True Tiger. Together, the artists form a tenacious team. Their chemistry on the decks is well-documented by recorded sets and tag team mixes. The two are featured in the most recent installment of the Sub.mission podcast. The duo’s distinct sound is unmistakable and inimitable. It is the signature of their label, New World Audio, and perhaps the most uniformly infectious rendition of dubstep’s character.
An impressive array of stylistic evolutions come together under the “dubstep” banner. Fans and artists tend to gravitate towards their preferred aesthetic pockets: from the deep and uncompromisingly subtle, the desperately dark, the heavy, existential frustration (recognizable as Chestplate’s trademark), to the aggressive maximalist twist highlighted in “tearout” and “riddim” styles. The music of Sukh Knight and Squarewave is best described as “all of the above”. They’re known to capture the abrasive, pointedly personal verbal quality of grime vocals... in instrumental tracks. The sound defies perceptions of “mature” music: it’s aggressive and variable enough to hook fans of dubstep’s newer incarnations, but mindful of the meditation celebrated by minimalists and deep-end dwellers.
The duo’s nuanced relationship with dubstep’s defining characteristics is displayed flawlessly in their Sub.mission podcast mix. The beauty of minimalism is its unwavering control of tension. Dubstep differentiates itself from other genres by paying equal mind to the release. Sukh Knight and Squarewave are masters of that moment. Their heaviest tunes shock the audience not out of a trance, but into an elevated state of meditation. The hour- and seventeen minute- mix – comprised largely of the artists’ original productions - guides the listener into a comfortable place (credit to Squarewave) for the purpose of shattering it (Sukh Knight's specialty). Each point of release introduces a new wave of increased intensity. The effect is a listening experience usually reserved for live sets.
Of course, such expert touch for the modern “mixtape” form begs for a huge sound system and a proper party. Sukh Knight and Squarewave will make their way to North America soon. Stay locked to each of their pages (Sukh Knight // Squarewave) for all the information you need to catch the team on a dance floor near you. Check out New World Audio on Bandcamp for the label's full release collection - including Sukh Knight's newest EP - and other goodies.