LSN continues their low-end crusade with their latest release on Artikal Music UK. In some ways, the Systematic EP is a quintessential release from the prolific dubstep trio; in others, the EP is quite different from what we’ve come to expect from the group. Unmistakably anchored to dubstep’s musical and ideological tradition, LSN’s Systematic EP is an intuitive fit on J:Kenzo’s iconic imprint. The release is available 12/7/2019 via the Artikal Music Bandcamp.
LSN’s most recognizable signature may be Simetra’s haunting vocals, but lately the trio’s experimental impulse has been on central display. Recent releases - notably the Control Pt. 2 EP on Uprise Audio - purposefully push expectations and genre boundaries via alternative BPMs and styles. But the Systematic EP is almost meta-dubstep: each of the four 140BPM tracks highlights formational themes from dubstep’s history, both lyrically and in their instrumental production.
In typical LSN fashion, Systematic is unusually vocal-centric compared to dubstep’s expected instrumentalism. But this EP also includes prolific guest vocalists on two of its tracks. The EP’s title track, “Systematic,” features Warrior Queen alongside LSN’s own Simetra. Within a song structure more typical of modern lyrical music, Warrior Queen’s verse and Simetra’s refrain create a dialogue that epitomizes the role of underground music in today’s consumerist, media-saturated culture. Simetra’s chorus is both thematically profound, and contagiously singable: “Systematic brainwash tactic…”
The verbal motif continues through “Reality,” featuring one of dubstep’s favorite conscious MC’s, Rider Shafique. Shafique’s lyrics are a very direct allusion to the genre’s “dub” roots, but are also sure to resonate with dubstep’s youthful modern audience, who’s fresh disillusionment to the society that raised them likely contributes to the appeal of the dark underground sound. Lines like “Slaves to a system that’s corrupt and dirty” re-iterate and reflect the lyrical message in “Systematic.” Through their heavy vocal emphasis, these tunes make dubstep’s heart, soul, and sense of consciousness accessible to its new generation of fans - a counterpoint (and a complement) to the obsession with innovation shared by the digital era’s artists and fans, as well as LSN themselves.
On another relase, “Gone” might be the easy centerpiece, with its raw, intimate energy and potent crossover potential. Simetra’s chopped, airy vocals add a special sparkle to the track’s gritty vibe and dancefloor-ready momentum: “Gone” is the type of creative banger most audibly associated with LSN’s place in the scene today.
But on an EP that places substantial lyricism at its core, the opening track, “Join Em,” stands out. The immersive, wonky, new-wave gunfinger-blazer isn’t totally instrumental. “Join Em” includes a comically profound sample sure to resonate with DJs and especially promoters today. The source of this sample is unknown to us, but I wonder if it, too, is a subtle reference to sound system music’s history.
On a surface level, the musical value of Systematic requires no justification. The EP is a coherent collection of four standalone tracks, each boasting prolific radio & live set play that is likely to continue beyond the release date. It is undeniably a top-tier dubstep EP: but the self-awareness of themes explored throughout the release give depth to what that means. The lyrics themselves paint conscious acknowledgement to dubstep’s underground ethos, which is especially important in a time when the genre’s growth in popularity outpaces its tradition. As rising musical authorities in a scene undergoing an unprecedented international rebirth, LSN’s stated commitment to its roots is impressive and, in a lofty, big-picture type of way, incredibly important.
Check out LSN's installment of the Sub.mission Podcast below.