Vex’d – Cloud Seed

Vex'd – Cloud Seed

When you’re labeled as a ‘pioneer,’ someone who led the movement in the dubstep/bass scene, it carries a great deal of weight on anyone’s shoulders. Now imagine taking four years off before releasing an album – this is exactly the case with electronic duo Vex’d. The pair of Jamie Vex’d and Roly Porter rarely step out onto the scene to record music together, let alone perform, and there will always be a void there. However, they’ve put together a massive amount of sweltering beats and synths onto an album that will surely have its own place in time.

From the outset, it’s obvious that Vex’d’s style of dubstep is much more tribal and much more primitive than a few others out there. More The Bug than say, someone like Burial or even Benga, this is clashing, towering music that always seems possessed. What exactly the possession is, is something left to the listener to imagine but for every new dark layer, or ominous pattern, is a relentless beat that never tires. Even when a featured voice appears to lend a vocal line, the music is always at your attention, pulling everything away. And while it’s almost impossible to pull the black away from the gray, there isn’t much need for clearness on Cloud Seed.

It should be noted that all of the music on here is not entirely new. While there are a few remixes, there are also songs the pair have had in their arsenal for years but never got around to recording. So even if we’d like to imagine that this is an actual album, it’s hard to overlook the fact that it’s missing the cohesive aspect of it. But those kinds of facts can be overlooked when you have Jamie’s take on Plaid’s “Bar Kimura,” chronicling a booming lower half and the cloudiness of nighttime in such a skillful manner that you forget it’s even a remix. And the cohesive aspect is put to the side when you follow that with the wonky, low register of “Disposition” and Jest’s laboring MCing.

The more you learn about electronic music and its surrounding/alternate genres, you start to find out just how deep the crowd really is. Back when Burial released Untrue, there was a loud commotion over the kind of dubstep that he had created: something uniquely personal while still maintaining a heavy beat-oriented kind of electronic music. But albums like those are substantially indebted to Vex’d 2005’s effort, Degenerate, an album that changed the name of dubstep into something versatile, raw and integral. Not only were Vex’d bringing forth a new sound but they were combining it with the jungle rhythms, breaks and grime that they’re partial towards. Although Cloud Seed follows on that same path, it’s not nearly as good as its predecessor but it’s also striking in its own right.

But that’s just the problem when facing new music, there always has to be some sort of comparison to make. Whether it’s to another artist, or to another style, or to another album and often, we forget to enjoy music as a standalone product. But when doing so, it makes the pair’s latest offering that much more valuable. Because even if a few changes could have been made, we still have something as menacing as “Oceans” and something as propulsive and explosive as “Nails” to close out Cloud Seed. It marks the end of an era but it also marks what marvelous dubstep has come to; well, at least one aspect of it.

Planet Mu