BBC6 was playing the track “Want” one day and I immediately thought “hey Mark Stewart is singing on some dubstep record”, because there was a bit of the “WuB WuB WuB” going on. It turned out to be the new Mark Stewart album, and I was ecstatic!
As fans go, I probably still like “As The Veneer Of Democracy Starts To Fade” the best of all. I do like the later dubby ON-U sound stuff he’s more known for, but those records are not all solid gold all the way through. Anyway, this new album may be his most consistent in terms of quality, and perhaps least consistent in terms of style. There is not so much of the old ON-U dubstyle going on here, but more rock fused into the mix, which is still clearly electronic dance based.
Yes there is a dubstep influenced track, and it’s way more interesting than most dubstep out there. (perhaps I’ll exclude the first wave guys like Burial and Boxcutter, if anyone even still considers them Dubstep.) There is some tecno-ish stuff, some industrial-ish stuff, even a poppy euro-techno track that should seem out of place, but doesn’t. The variety has a great deal to do with the long list of guests on this album, which I will leave you to google, but it’s still solidly Stewart songs through and through.
Dark ballads, noise and dance beats, all the goods you want from Stewart, and his vocals are top notch with top notch production to go with. If there was one thing missing I would say it’s the ON-U sound “sound”. Perhaps it’s there and has just changed so much that I don’t recognize it. I would however like one or two tracks in the noisy dub style that he’s perfected. But this album appears to be about new stuff, playing with new musicians and trying new things.
There is enough variety here to hold my attention for repeated listening, which is what I have been doing, listening over and over.
Mark Stewart has a fancy new website where you will not find any album credits that tell you who all the guest artists are on the album, or which song features Kenneth Anger on theremin – http://www.markstewartmusic.com/