Depending on your take on these three genres, they're either A) Almost completely unrelated; B) An indie-sphere marketing ploy; C) Various evolutions on a theme; D) In the case of post-dubstep and chillwave, two of the biggest music breakthroughs of the past couple of years; E) Precursors to witch house (a joke genre that grew in popularity among music press and is now used to describe certain minimalist/ambient/electronic bands.
Or, an one online poll put it, "Chillwave is cool. Dubstep is bangin'." (None of the six votes selected either option.)
Here's the Cliff's Notes version: Dubstep has its roots in Jamaican dub music, but aside from the drum and bass and instrumental elements, there's little in the way of familial resemblance. Dubstep is dark and syncopated with looped percussion and wobble bass.
Post-dubstep takes its cues from dubstep (skipping rhythms) but also from R&B (funky grooves). It's more minimalist/ambient/melodic — and, since the term just started popping up in music blogs in the past year, it's still being defined and evolved.
Chillwave (the term) is credited to blog Hipster Runoff and has been tossed around a lot recently in reference to the trifecta of Neon Indian, Toro Y Moi and (not performing at Moogfest) Washed Out. But some music buffs claim Toro Y Moi's current direction is more indie. Much of chillwave evolved from bedroom studios and economic one-person bands (though chillwave poster boy Ernest Greene of Washed Out recently played Asheville with a full band) unleashing tides and eddies of pulsing, atmospheric electro-pop that recalls the best parts of the '80s and smartly packages it in 21st-century sparkle. — A.M.
Kode9 collaborated with Flying Lotus on the track "Kryon," from this year's Black Sun. Kode9's newer sounds, with MC The Spaceape, is static-y and spidery, experimenting with sound and the disintegration of beats. It's a move away from his former base in dubstep. Important point here: he does own influential record label Hyperdub, and since Kode9 pioneered that genre, he can be easily and obviously grouped into this category. But Kode9 has never been one to rest on his accomplishments and has continued to innovate and experiment, leading to his current so-post-it’s-meta sound. Plus, the guy has a Ph.D in philosophy, which kind of makes sense in the context of Black Sun's explorations and ruminations. — A.M.
For a bedroom project that spawned after a missed acid-tripping date, Brooklyn’s Neon Indian (aka Alan Palomo) has quickly expanded beyond his chillwave roots. On this year’s Era Extraña, this son of a Mexican popstar gives his fuzzy, ‘80s-tinged electro-pop a much needed rock ’n’ roll kick in the ass. And just to further prove he’s the real deal, he recently collaborated with The Flaming Lips on a limited-release, noise-psych EP. Oh, and he’s designed his own analog synth (the PAL198X). — M.B.
U.K. producer Zomby is as almost as famous for his mysterious persona (he’s rarely ever seen without his trademark Guy Fawkes mask or cardboard Eye of Providence helmet) as for being a post-dubstep pioneer. But musically, he’s also ingeniously unpredictable. Since debuting in 2008 with Where Were U In ‘92?, a gleeful ode to ‘90s rave, he returned this year with the eerie, masterful Dedication — an ode to his late father — full of plinking pianos and haunting, liquid beats. By the way, he’s on fellow Moogfest artist Kode9’s Hyperdub label. — M.B.
On the poppier side of post-dubstep, London-based (and tribal-mask wearing) producer SBTRKT (pronounced “subtract”) initially made a name for himself with his high-profile mixes of artists like M.I.A. and Basement Jaxx. But it was his self-titled debut released in June that made him essential listening in the electronic world. A melodic blend of slippery bass lines and syncopated rhythms, his music straddles the line of everything from U.K. garage and techno to old-school soul and synth pop. — M.B.
With his complex waves of bubbling, analog synth melodies, Brooklyn’s Oneohtrix Point Never (aka Daniel Lopatin and one half of Moogfest band Ford & Lopatin) is on the forefront of the new crop of electro-drone psychedelics. Warbling, melancholy and darkly retro, he’s got the type of sound that could fit perfectly on the soundtrack of an ‘80s near-future flick (think John Carpenter). Replica, his highly anticipated follow-up to 2010’s Returnal, is slated to come out next month. He’s also readying to launch his own ‘zine, fittingly titled Cool Drool. —M.B.
The last thing you might imagine in the crunchy town of Boulder, Colo., is an experimental club-dance scene. But in the past couple of years, electro-house trio Savoy (who recently moved to, where else, Brooklyn) has been garnering a ton of attention for sweat-shaking, multimedia live shows. Opening for Pretty Lights didn’t hurt either. File under: Thumping, rock-sharp party music. — M.B.
Live improv in jazz? Expected. But live improv in dubstep/trip-hop/house music? That you don’t see everyday. Leave it to Eoto, a side-project of The String Cheese Incident, to pave the jam-band way. Hitting the stage without a plan or a single pre-recorded loop, the experimental duo whips up a dizzying dance frenzy using an array of instruments (i.e., drums, vocals, guitars, keys), all mixed, looped and sampled live on stage, totally off the cuff. — M.B.
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