Snap Sounds: Clubroot

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CLUBROOT

II MMX

(LoDubs, 2010)

Purposely constructed anonymity as a reaction to this supposed Internet Age of Information is by now pretty passe in music circles (cf. Silver Columns, jj, Burial). So some may have rolled their eyes when future dubber Clubroot went that route with his first releases, even though the music was intellectually sensuous and the first full-length release received raves from Dubstepforum to Pitchfork.

Indeed, it seemed that Clubroot was following a little too closely in Burial's footstep -- no photos, no live sets, no given name -- yet the music was tweeked slightly from that brainy dubstep god's blueprint and showed a unique promise. But by now we're all trained for the big, and in most cases anticlimactic, reveal. Since Clubroot's been promoting a second album on Portland's LoDubs label, he's come out as 25-year-old Dan Richmond of St. Alban's, UK, and is hitting the road for some live shows -- ditching the reclusiveness (even though only obscured pics of him exist, and I wonder if he'll be disguised for his upcoming show at Triple Crown). All signs, however, point not to anticlimax but to dance floor swoon.

II MMX is a 2 CD set that contains much of first album Clubroot, but the newer stuff advances beyond earlier hyper-cerebral and sometimes too-gloomy intentions for a trip into the deep forest. Yes, tracks like "Orbiting," "Waterways," "Dust Storm," and the unfortunately titled "Cherubs Cry" channel some good ol' pan flute sounds, tablas, and disembodied choruses that may call to mind New Age label Wyndham Hill or groups like Deep Forest, Enigma, even Enya. This is not a kiss of death -- there's a Balearic-derived trend blowing through right now that's excavating those once-tacky sounds and making something fresh with them. It's a neat trick, quite pleasant, and Clubroot is pulling it off. Call it dubstep's version of chillwave.

While he can still show some spooked-out dubstep teeth on tracks like "Whistles & Horns" and "Physically" (and in his live mixes, like the one above for the inimitable Mary Anne Hobbs), Clubroot's forging ahead in the pursuit of the thing every critic is calling post-dubstep, but which none can properly define. Good for him. Pack up that warped urban sitar loop and lead us into the trees, Clubroot -- whoever you may be.     

(Reports from Seattle's Decibel festival last week indicate that the live show's a keeper, a LoDubs showcase that really stokes the diverse crowd. It's not all ethereal -- check out LoDubs head Jon AD's killer lazer house-y set from the fest here. ) 

CLUBROOT With DJG, Djunya, and Jon A.D. Thurs/30, 10 p.m., $10. Triple Crown, 1760 Market, SF. www.triplecrownsf.com.

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