We're here. As I've noted in our previous encounter with Lurka, "Beater" was the moment where the emergence of a new wave of dubstep-steeped UK producers trading in only the freshest (not to mention challenging) of beats. This might be implied by my heavy use of the first person, but just in case, let me break it down...I think the idea of divorcing criticism from one's own personal narrative is naive at best, self-deluding at worst. As much as we'd like to believe otherwise, things don't get canonized on their own merits. The canon often is made up of albums that had a leg-up in the PR, $$$, and hype departments than other equally worthy albums did, and thus were able to resonate with far more listeners' own personal development and become part of writers' own personal narratives. After all, while so many seek to keep the personal and critical separated--see any scholarly debate over whether to the use the first-person in such reviews--this actually creates a far more confusing situation for the reader as the opinion is presented as a conviction, a self-evident truth. I mean, for as many best-of-whatever lists I've read, I usually find myself rarely agreeing with more than half of the selections--be it Fact, RA, P4K, or some other garbage--but that wasn't always the case.
Developing one's taste and voice within the music they play is not something at all prized within our current musical culture--I'll save the DJ rant for another day, but I've basically stopped going out at this point as no one is saying anything with the music they play. I hate to say, but having predicted that the rise of Spotify and other eager-to-please streaming platforms--alongside all the other streaming platforms, which they seem to handily beat--would help to devalue the listening (and more importantly, the discovery process) that at least united music fans across genre until this century. Their money was spent to procure far less music, but yet the connections forged with those albums, those material objects seem to more directly evoke the transactional nature of music discovery. When you buy a record and don't like it at first, you're likely going to give it at least one more try because who wants that money to go to waste? But with this new era of disposable listening and disposable fans, the chance for narrative resonance between art and the life lived by an individual experiencing said art is becoming much more uncommon outside of music critics and people under thirty as we seem ready to cede any desire to curate our own environments. Yet, here we have more and more artists finding an existence outside of playlists while also eschewing the 'progression of the new' narrative that has long animated discussions about electronic music as contemporary producers like those we've covered are seeking not to emulate genres or styles but to rather push them into new zones altogether, contaminated by a range of other forms.
All of which is to say, I have to question at the end of the day if "Beater" is actually as important as I feel it is, or rather if it's just the one that had the most impact at the right time. As I was telling the person who first introduced me to the track in December 2016, the only indication that others were as inspired by this dancefloor deconstruction was the song's inclusion on the first Timedance remix twelve. But let's quit it with the foreplay for once and get into the song causing all these heat-baked thoughts. One of the aspects of some of Lurka's music is that it can be rather slow considering that it is a mutation in particular of the 140bpm halfstep dubstep that reigned supreme from 2006 onwards in particular, not to mention so many other post-dubstep stylings. But like a latter-day, imperfect replicant of Loefah, Lurka succeeds at crafting his dreadnought compositions with an overarching emphasis on vibes while also flirting with seemingly every rhythmic pattern he can. Like its title suggests, "Beater" is all about the drums, kicking off with a rhythmic-melodic kick pattern that calls to mind Batu's "Void" in its tonal multi-functionality. Riding in at a sluggish 113 BPM barebones kick-snare-kick-snare-snare sequence that sounds kinda like a cybernetic rendition of "We Will Rock You," the kicks burst out of the speakers like protruding slinkies with a nursery rhyme-like melody coming into focus on the recoil--we're truly a long way from the 140 BPM days, folks. Ramping up the energy and hitting a tonal plane for a solid sixteen bars, Lurka keeps things pretty austere before deploying his first switch-up, signaled by two granular kick hits. Switching into full electro mood with rolling high hats and a Strafe-like snare snap, the producer rides a solid sixteen bars of slowed-down Miami bass rhythm sequencing before snare delays come lose from the cavern ceiling and we're off dodging rhythmic stalactites. Then, like a phone come to life, a monotone melody that evokes a droning router shoves its way into the mix for what is the song's vanishing act of a topline. As the original beat comes back in, it seems like we're on our way out as everything drops but the kick. This is all a fake-out of course as Lurka still has plenty of rhythmic calisthenics left to perform as the mutilated drone undulates its way back onto the horse as the edifice continues to crumble, Miami booty bass and all. At 5:10 things finally seem to have worn themselves out as the mangled kick is left to flail about before cleaning itself before exploding into a double-time bass assault to bring things to a close. A masterpiece of booty-dropping minimalism.