Dubdiver :: Floating Beats
Germany - once the bastion for National Socialism during WWII, is now a major destination for political and economic refugees escaping 'oppression' in their home lands. It now experiences political turmoil of its own - the conservative Christian Democrats are trying to head a coalition government much to the distaste of the ruling Social Democrats. The outcome obviously will have major ramifications for immigrants, either way. While these immigrants don't have as much of a presence as they do in Great Britain or the U.S., their influence is beginning to take hold in various creative outlets throughout the Central European nation. Bollywood, Bhangra and Turkish Pop have caught on at a rate rarely seen outside of their respective birth places.
Politics and social demographics aside, tuning into German television or radio these days would lead one to believe that the homegrown electronic music that the country is so well known for is largely relegated to underground clubs and boutique record labels. While labels such as Kompakt (www.kompakt-net.de) and K7 (https://www.k7.com) continue to release quality productions, the output largely falls into the minimal techno, house and downtempo genres. Global beats and ethnic electronica have been repped largely by Friedel Lelonek and Genetic Drugs. The time has come to add another name to that list.
Berlin's Stefan Korn, better known as DubDiver gives us Floating Beats, his debut album on Blue Flame Records. Although marketed as a meeting point of 'downbeat, drum & bass and asian underground,' it falls squarely into lounge territory, keeping the BPM low throughout. The first thing you notice about DubDiver's sound is that he has his M.O. down pat. Somewhat of a child prodigy - he started taking drum lessons at the age of six - he obviously is as accomplished in electronic production techniques as he is with organic sounds. Samplers, sequencers, live instruments and human voices are deftly utilized until it is hard to distinguish between them.
He kicks things off with 'Shine' a remake of the mid 90's reggae crossover hit by Aswad. The feel-good vocals, although re-sung, remain largely intact while complex layers of electronics and synth patterns bubble underneath giving it an dancehall/trip hop-via-the Orient-vibe. 'Dotted Diary' traverses sonically dark atmospheres through the use of a heartbreaking flute sample. Breakbeats and syncopated drum patterns take centerstage on 'Kaleido-Scope' that harken back to the early Outcaste sound. 'Surya Mangalam' opens with the guitar prowess of Steffe Köhler before moving into tabla and synth infused downbeat grooves that wouldn't have sounded too out of place on T.J. Rehmi's last release, managing to make eastern electronica warm again. Album closer 'Varanasi' is Dubdiver's most obvious foray into ethnotechno territory - sitars battle western strings as sequencers and a medium tempo groove accompany Maurice Etoile's classically trained voice to just the right effect.
Floating Beats is not without its flaws - for the most part, the instrumentals far outclass the vocals - but in a genre (lounge/chillout) that sometimes forces new artists to recycle ideas and concepts, DubDiver has quite efficiently found his groove, a groove that promises to deliver the next time around as well.