When I first started out on this project--a sort of serial annotation to a larger piece I'm writing on this particular strain of UK dance music--I had Bruce's 2014 debut mapped out as something of a starting point for the current post-genre approach that has helped foster what is arguably one of the most creatively fertile moments in UK dance music since dubstep. Speaking with Laksa--one producer who seemingly refuses to be pinned down to any one aesthetic or style--he spoke about the desire to unconsciously achieve the "dubstep drop," that shock of the new that confounds as much as it energizes. And while many of the current crop of "bass bobblers" will deploy a low-end attack, what has made the music so exciting is its willingness to totally realign listener expectations.
From its opening jaw-dropping seconds, "Not Stochastic" now plays almost like something of a manifesto for a new approach to making music for the post-dubstep audience. Released on Hessle Audio, a label that has embodied the FWD spirit since its first release and which continues to grow and mutate in exciting and challenging way, the track's 4X4 shuffle, 122 BPM, and that unmistakable high-pitched hook instantly marked it as something bass and techno heads had never quite heard before. While critics and nuum defenders have argued that more rolling producers such as Hodge simply amplify the bass pressure as a sign of its 'UK-ness," Bruce managed to take the skeleton of techno and make it uniquely his own through channeling the future sounds of BBC Radiophonic Worshop lynchpin Delia Derbyshire. Utilizing a microscopic sample to achieve the sounds fluttering high-end, Bruce taps into the trance-inducing qualities of techno and early dubstep alike. The 'drop,' if one can even call it that, comes through the addition of a gently pulsating, sustained loop that sounds like a decaying assembly line to song's ghost of a bass line, a delayed bubble burst given texture and a steely atmosphere
Having released a more traditional stepping two-tracker for Dnuos Ytivil that September which still marked him as a producer drawn to a more organic and unusual sound palette--and that bass line in "Tilikum," give me a break!--few could have expected the lasting impression "Not Stochastic" has had on exciting new voices like Gaunt. It marked a move away from the synthetic bass constructions of scene godfathers like Peverelist whose pretzeled rhythms have often kept his more exciting tracks at arm's length from most conventional DJ's. And believe me, his and Kowton "Raw Code" will get the attention it deserves in this space soon enough. But with "Not Stochastic," shit got weird again, finally. It didn't attempt to rewrite history or synthesize a new future, though it certainly evoked the UK's long history with creating new and exciting sounds while giving DJ's a track they could slip into a more conventional techno set, though I've certainly never seen it happen. Still, it now seems to mark the moment when all bets went bust and increasingly outmoded fealty to "rudeness" started to feel more like nostalgic whimsy than trailblazing, instead opening a wholly other space for a new type of disruption.