Review of Magnetic Man Album by Magnetic Man

As dance music enjoys something of a rejuvenation, its heartwarming to see such an upsurge of creativity taking place on these very shores. While previous revolutions in beat culture have traditionally occurred in the likes of Chicago and San Antonio, this year's refreshing dubstep phenomenon has seen London emerge at the forefront of a scene resigned to having disappeared up its own self-important backside many moons ago.

Magnetic Man Magnetic Man Album

Although in many ways still the residual point for faceless entities more at home behind a mixing desk of one form or another, the sheen enamoured by the genre's big three - namely DJs Skream, Benga and Artwork has created its own little stir to the point where even the big guns Stateside such as Timbaland and Pharrell Williams are gazing over the pond nervously, guarding their thunder before the inevitable steal becomes apparent.

That the trio have joined forces as Magnetic Man seems to have engineered something of an invincible force, far outweighing the initial flurry of excitement surrounding both their individual identities and the scene that spawned them. Certainly the fourteen pieces of music spread across this self-titled debut suggest a diversity and range not normally associated with such a niche-orientated genre, yet despite such a finely crafted body of work there's an insatiable feeling that the best is still to come.

'Magnetic Man' is largely constructed of instrumental compositions, many of which are centred around furious breakbeats and convoluted bass rhythms. What sets this apart from the rest of the competition however is the audacious delving into unknown territories, such as on the oriental tinged, string heavy opener 'Flying Into Tokyo'. 'Ping Pong' meanwhile uses Atari console style beats over a deftly orchestrated arrangement that harks back to the days of Roni Size et al, except without the monotonous jazz noodling that undoubtedly curtailed his career. The electro mash up of 'Mad' coupled with the cinematic 'Karma Crazy' also hint at more ambitious excursions in the future than most of their dubstep contemporaries could ever dare to muster.

Vocal collaborations are sparse, but when called upon Magnetic Man go for the jugular. Ms Dynamite adds a ragga style accompaniment to 'Fire' that far outweighs anything she's put her name to since 2002, while John Legend's gently whispered croon fits perfectly with the laidback dub of album closer 'Getting Nowhere'. It's the two numbers featuring Katy B - herself one of this year's great finds courtesy of regular studio accomplice (and one third of Magnetic Man) Benga - that really accentuate what a delightful record 'Magnetic Man' serves to be. Recent single 'Perfect Stranger' floats and bends like New Order on a cold day, Miss Brien's lilting voice almost sounding like it was designed to match whatever melody was put in front of it. Better still is 'Crossover', possibly the standout moment here whose reverberating bassline and delicate tread has a distinct after hours feel about it reminiscent of Massive Attack in their heyday.

Indeed, not since 'Blue Lines' has a UK artist displayed the tenacity to fuse dancefloor beats and rhythms with a vision way beyond its initial comfort zone. Having not only reinvigorated the UK's tired club scene, Magnetic Man have sent out a defiant message to the rest of the competition both here and abroad; America, it's your shout, because make no mistake, 'Magnetic Man' bears all the hallmarks of being dance music's benchmark for some time to come.

Dom Gourlay

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