With all this new bass music (I refuse to accept the label ‘trap’) exploding on to the ever widening landscape of electronic music, one has to wonder who the innovators will be. There will always be the lackluster kind of this sort of music, you know the type – repetetive, boring, 808 kick drums with some high pitched stabs and a whole bunch of hi-hats (essentially every festival house ‘trap’ remix released ever).
Then, on the polar opposite of the spectrum, you have Dobie’s latest album We Will Not Harm You. It is so cohesive, so in depth, and so exploratory, it almost seems unfair to try and classify it into a single genre. To give a bit of context, I would liken the album to some of the more abstract Brainfeeder and Ninja Tune artists with a bit more breaks – but even that comparison is too narrow.
While listening to the album all the way through in order is quite an experience, I would personally start at ‘Then I Woke Up’. The track runs the gambit of euphoric synth lines, eerie vocals, and wailing electric guitar to create a stunning soundscape that really encapsulates the more ambient aspects of the album. ‘Then I Woke Up’ creates a kind of home base on the album for me – for example, in ‘The Chant’, straight bass music breaks give way to this same sort of euphoric synth line, creating a hugely interesting dichotomy that engages the listener throughout the whole album.
Aside from the breaks and general euphoria, Dobie adds another motif that rounds out the album nicely – a creative yet restrained use of pure electronic blips. In ‘Magenta’, the bleeps serve as the main generator for movement in combination with the break and vocals. It comes out sounding like a mash of Mr. Oizo and Aphex Twin, but with the addition of jazzy vocals and completely unique movement, it ends up sounding like nothing but Dobie.
The consistent use of jazz is hugely interesting as well. ‘Somewhere Over There’ is a kind-of modern day jazz anthem – in the same way that the 50s gave way to a new style of freeform jazz in line with the beat generation, Dobie has paved the way for a new, technology enhanced artistic reawakening, at least in terms of the possibilities of collaboration between jazz and experimental electronic music.
All in all, it is goddamn close to impossible to classify this album as any one genre. It’s trip-hop, breaks, jazz, bass, and rock all wrapped up in a roughly bound package of experiments, arranged in such cohesive and unique way it becomes impossible not to listen to the album all the way through. We Will Not Harm You falls into the category of purely experimental works, and where so many albums like it have failed to capture the listener, Dobie triumphs. Definitely a huge step in the right direction for continued innovation in 2013.