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Subterra - Dualism Records


album Reviews Mar 06, 03:59pm

A review of Subterra, a compilation released by Dualism Records.

At the risk of sounding smug and nauseatingly self-righteous, this writer believes that writing/playing/listening to music is not merely a hedonistic indulgence. It's some kind of noble pursuit which poses challenges that may not always yield any rewards but often would. Of course it should be fun too, but the fun is a secondary benefit - a fringe - not the immediate one.

So I really enjoyed listening to Subterra, the eight-song compilation put out by Dualism Records. It's just such a bouncy album featuring some of the hippest, coolest, bangingest producers/DJs/electronic musicians (?) around. 'Grinding' by Su Real has to be the standout track here simply for being so outrageously fun to listen to, with chopping runs and morphing vocals that wouldn't be out of place on a pizza base (it’s so cheesy, get it?) working perfectly here, especially since it's followed by the far more introspective and substantial 'Fingerprints & Mugshots' by Your Chin. The flow, oh so important on a compilation featuring multiple artists, seems to be focused very consciously on capturing a certain mood with the listener and then maintaining that mood, or stretching it out if you will. The narrative of the record doesn't hit any extremes often; it's a gentle swaying motion from mid-low intensity to mid-high intensity to status quo, aka playing it safe and catering to ears possibly not looking for challenges.

That’s essentially the biggest positive and negative of Subterra. It doesn’t challenge the listener. Five years from today, this writer will most likely have no tangible memory of the release. But then, popular music (pop music) doesn’t often challenge the aural aesthetics of its loyal patrons. Like so, this release, despite its limited scope of ambition, is a good release for a few reasons. 1) being that it’s a compilation featuring some fairly popular names, allowing listeners the novelty of discovering artists that are spreading their (own or remixed or sampled or mashed-up) sounds within the electronic circuit of India. 2) that Subterra features a few pretty decent songs that would capture the imagination of a wide audience, from Frame/Frame’s very popular ‘Pastels’ to the aforementioned bombastic ‘Grinding’ by Su Real to ‘Fill Your Dragon’ by Big City Harmonics (which samples ‘Twice’ by Little Dragon), to Your Chin’s contribution. 3) is the fact that it’s a free release put out by an indie label trying to spread this music across.

There’s some filler material too, which does absolutely nothing (for or against) and it’s just there because why not? But there’s no point delving into that. What strikes this writer the most, and also confuses him deeply, is the process of absorbing and internalizing and understanding Subterra. I obviously have no right to speculate on the intentions behind a lot of the music created here, and it’s just a blast (for the most part) to listen to, but beyond that lies a nothingness. There seems to be a tangible lack of substance here, not in the individual songs, but maybe in the overall feel of Subterra. Then again, I can’t really say that for sure; hence the confusion. Maybe I’ll just hit Play again.


Stream Subterra by Dualism Records below:


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