Release Date: Mar 6, 2012
Record label: Hotflush
Genre(s): Electronic, Garage, Club/Dance, Left-Field House, Dubstep
At some point in the past year or so, appropriating the signifiers of big, dumb, and derided dance music became the thing to do. Overdriven riffs, snare rolls, embarrassingly huge climaxes, and even lusher comedowns: Trance, prog, and electro are seeping through the pores of underground dance music. Berlin-based UK expat Paul Rose has been leading the charge with this sort of stuff, stirring controversy with his overtly trancey "Adrenalin" and crafting a hypnotic sugar rush with "Loss".
ScubaPersonality[Hotflush; 2012]By Will Ryan; February 27, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGThe opening challenge to Scuba's Personality is hard to ignore. A down-pitched voice with a rough London accent seems to shrug and sniff before intoning, "We're all unique...or are we?" like a boxing coach waxing poetic to a pupil about the true spirit of the fight. It sets the bar pretty garshdarn high for London-to-Berlin transplant, Paul Rose aka Scuba.
Even after the pupil-dilating trance of 2011's hit single "Adrenalin" and the cellar-dweller techno he's produced as SCB the last couple years, there's probably going to be a moment on your first listen through Scuba's third album, Personality, where you wonder if he's taking the piss. After all, Berlin-by-Londoner Paul Rose has been one of the foremost dubstep producers in the scene since at least his debut album of '08, A Mutual Antipathy. If 2010's excellent Triangulation found Rose detailing ambient swoons and brief blurts of steely techno into one of the genre's most coherent albums to date, he was ostensibly still working within the iron-shackled blare of dubstep traditionalism.
Dubstep’s ambassador to Berlin, Paul ‘Scuba’ Rose is a living interface between UK bass music and Berghain’s austere dub-techno. ‘Personality’, his third album, conforms to type, while confounding expectation. Less moody than you might expect (if nowhere near as fluffy as his controversial 2011 banger, ‘Adrenalin’), it reverberates with ’80s electro, ’90s house and post-dubstep’s purple synths, but within a sonic framework that evokes everything from monastic purity to claustrophobic intensity.
Where were you in ’92? It was a year that saw chart smashes by the likes of Bizzare Inc., Ce Ce Peniston and Snap! amongst a glut of similar acts cashing in on uplifting dance music, transformed from an underground phenomenon to a commercial juggernaut. But more than a mere throwaway M.I.A. hook, the question has seemed increasingly relevant when examining the state of modern dance music.
Review Summary: Paul Rose finds himself with a case of the big room bluesIf album titles should be taken as the statements that they are, then Personality, when announced, should have had something to answer for. As an acclamation of what Scuba’s latest holds in store, it’s a reasonable candidate, given that the album plays out exactly as what one would expect Paul Rose’s spartan grayscale dubstep to sound like when re-wired into the giddy highs of Berghain. And as a way of forming distance from the monolithic slab of moodiness that was Triangulation into the lumbering, jacked-up turn-of-the-century house Scuba now seems intent on communing with, the idea of Personality makes even far more sense, as does the album’s creative impetus.
Almost as if on cue, Hotflush label head Paul Rose (Scuba) has produced a record that is only minimally informed by the new-era dubstep his imprint helped usher in, just as the genre appears to be taking its last breaths (for now). Instead, Personality features a breadth of styles, many of them quite retro, like old school electro, acid house, and late-80s British ambient. Much of the inherent jubilance of these styles, however, has been leached off to give them Scuba’s archetypal rough-hewn finish.
On his third release, Paul Rose (aka Scuba) delivers something much flashier than anything his past may hint at. There’s no doubt that Personality is a techno album rooted in house, but it also finds Rose delving into more body-moving sounds than his darker tendencies would show. Beginning with “Ignition Key”, we hear a monologue in a low voice: “We are all unique.
As promised, Scuba’s third album is a departure form the dark, moody and cerebral bass music of his past. Press and interviews leading up to its release reported that Personality is often flashy, uptempo and dance-oriented where his last two full-lengths were introverted and sparse. The fragments he dropped along the way, like the album’s lead single, “The Hope,” with its hedonistic spoken house vocals and serrated synths, indicated that Scuba has been experimenting with music that moves the body more than the mind.
While maintaining a steady flow of continuous work, Scuba’s Paul Rose has seemingly incorporated many projects under his commanding arm. A product of the UK, Rose is now based in Berlin where he continues to traverse down a linear path of growing projects. With every new argument about what dubstep is or isn’t, Rose has released albums to noticeably impressive results with every passing turn.
The Hotflush boss takes a turn for the most cavernous of clubs on album three. Rory Gibb 2012 Any album that starts with a monologue decrying a lack of individuality in modern music could justifiably be accused of setting itself up for a fall. The music contained within Hotflush boss Scuba's third album largely manages to transcend its grumpy opening, though it's an oddly downbeat way to begin.
There's something to be said about a musician who can put together a good DJ Kicks. Last year, Paul Rose, the lap-hopping Brit behind Scuba, pulled together a bevy of ultramodern sounds and rhythms for his pulsating DJ mix. Therefore, it would only make sense that on Personality, his third LP, Scuba utilizes this structured mixing method for another batch of original recordings.