Sep 15, 2010
The Magic of Pendulum
Pendulum - Witchcraft (Rob Swire's Drumstep Remix) [Warner Music]
Pendulum - Witchcraft (Original Mix) [Warner Music]

Near summer’s start, I briefly reviewed Pendulum’s latest feature album Immersion. The verdict? Great, but with some forgettable sideshow tracks.

In the aftermath of one hell of a festival season, have the hits of Immersion stood up to the test of time? After seeing Kaskade drop the Steve Angello remix of The Island at Electric Zoo Festival a couple weeks back, I’ve got to say: yes. Definitely yes. In those tracks that matter, Pendulum has somehow managed to refine their sound for the new decade. It’s a brilliant marriage of rock, synthesizers and violence-addled basslines that continues to redefine the boundaries of drum n’ bass.

Speaking of boundaries, they’re also being completely destroyed. I’m talking about the latest single from the album – Witchcraft. It’s like Propane Nightmares, part two; classic Rob Swire vocals, and a distinctive melody that breaks down into rhythmic chaos. I’ve actually loved this track ever since my first listen-through of Immersion, because it’s very catchy and drops hard, Pendulum style.

We’re not here, however, to discuss the original Witchcraft. No, we’re here to talk about the aptly-named remix that came with the release of the Witchcraft single. Vocalist Rob Swire apparently took it upon himself to produce a massive re-imagining of the original drum n’ bass song. This is about the convergence of two genres–drum n’ bass and dubstep–into drumstep. In the introduction, the remix takes the melodic catchiness of the original and props it up with a step beat. It sounds almost like a soothing OceanLab chillout session, but not for long. Suddenly, Pendulum’s classic ridiculous drumlines are hammering along to a dark, massive series of bass plunges and analog wails. Too heavy to be drum n’ bass, but too intense to be dubstep, it’s an unholy fusion of both.

Pendulum are hardly the pioneers in this phenomenon; both genres share deep roots in dub and reggae out of Jamaica. Both genres also tend to play around or above 140 beats per minute, although dubstep doesn’t necessarily seem quite that fast. Most importantly, both genres are all about sick, grimy basslines. I could go on all day about how the genres are getting closer and closer – take Subfocus’s nasty remix of Rusko as another case-in-point, but this is just a blurb about a song, so we’ll leave that for another day. All you need to know is that this is Pendulum at their finest when they are cutting-edge.

Welcome to 2010, the age of drumstep.

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