Outside the Box
Ollie Jones built his first beats when he was just 15, which means he’s been working as a producer (and DJ) for nine years. As Skream, he blasted out of south London’s underground via ‘Midnight Request Line’, a plate of dark, slo-mo, arsequaking dub that made him one of the London scene’s most tipped players. Think of dubstep and you think of cavernous sub-bass and wobbleboard beats, but it’s always been hugely diverse, and Skream exemplifies that. He has one house/garage-leaning LP under his belt, and remixes for Klaxons and La Roux to prove his pop chops. Skream’s second shows he’s moved on from the scene.
Outside the Box might make purists puce with indignation. Which not only runs counter to dubstep’s principals, but is also pointless, because as well as working as one third of Magnetic Man, Skream is keeping it real by posting countless free tracks online, drawn from a vast library (872 songs since 2007 alone). Here, then, alongside the sound of a man having his own cake and eating it, is eight-bit hip hop, piano house, gleaming synth pop with a Balearic feel, R&B-toned techstep, psychedelic post-house and a disco/drum ’n’ bass hybrid. Only ‘Metamorphosis’, ‘Fields of Emotion’ and the monstrous ‘Wibbler’ point back to dubstep’s heartland. Skream’s creative reach is properly impressive and the four or so obvious singles here prove he’s headed for the stars. If the presence of La Roux (on ‘Finally’) offends diehard fans, then it’s time they jogged on.