Much has been made of the comparisons between DELS and fellow post-dubstep legionnaire Ghostpoet, and certainly there are many things the artists share. Rooted in hip-hop but eschewing almost all of that genre’s aesthetic, instead choosing to fill out the pallette with a range of influences scattered across electronic and urban music – dubstep, garage, grime and electro – they make ready-made tour pals. But the pair are significant for a much better reason.
In a world over-satiated with dubstep, people have been quick to look for a sound that might suitably be called post-dubstep. Quickly James Blake‘s eponymous debut was given the label – a record devoid of groove, and a lazy, excessive attitude toward ‘minimal’ that has very little to credit to dubstep – and the genre was in danger of becoming a nonsensical and reactionary term for any form of electronica post-2009. But between Ghostpoet and DELS we have two artists capable of juggling the many different aspects of UK electronic and urban music while keeping the energy of dubstep that made it such a huge sound for much of the late 00s.
But where James Blake and Ghostpoet frame post-dubstep as a languid dream state, DELS shows on GOB he can take all those influences and utilise the drive and shotgun ethic of hip-hop and its beats. Opener ‘Hydronenburg’, and later ‘Shapeshift’, recall the scattergun Anti-pop Consortium, all glitchy electronics and relentless upbeat spits. Joe ‘Hot Chip’ Goddard‘s production on the latter track, as well as on the single ‘Trumpalump’, provide perfect allegiance to DELS style, jumping between off-kilter electronic weirdness and beautiful analogue synth lines that remind us of the human context behind all the craziness.
And that human element is borne consistently in DELS lyrical introspection throughout GOB. ‘Trumpalump’ ultimately asks the sort of existential questions we’re all prone to asking: “Is the truth laying down right under my eyes? I need an answer, can’t keep wondering why. Is this life that I’m living? Am I living a lie?” Those everyman reflections take a more literal guise elsewhere, as on ‘Hydronenburg’ (“I’m looking at my job through the bottom of a glass…. am I still drunk? Evidently.”) or the gritty immediacy of ‘Droogs’, a narrative on sexual abuse told with a deliberate coarseness that recalls Plan B‘s ‘Sick 2 Def’.
On GOB, DELS proves he is among a new breed of UK MCs capable of stretching the boundaries of hip-hop without losing sight of a narrative on real urban and sub-urban life. And though this leaves DELS asking “Is my heart really bleeding, am I really alive?”, one thing can be sure: UK hip-hop is alive and well.
Release date: 2nd May 2011