Album Reviews

Caspa – Everybody’s Talking Nobody’s Listening

(Fabric) UK release date: 4 May 2009

As dubstep continues to evolve as a genre, this latest artist album makes a bid to see 2009 recognised as ‘the year of the ghost’.

For anyone who has attended Caspa’s frantic Fabric residency with DJ Rusko, this has felt like a realistic proposition for some time. All that’s needed now is for an artist album heavy on the bass to up sticks and make it over to the other side.

Even by dubstep standards Caspa’s sound is sparse, with often just a wobbly bass and drum doing battle, and the suggestion that there might be a jokey element, from the reference to the smiling ghost of children’s TV, quickly falls out of the equation

For the music is unremittingly dark, foreboding even. I Beat My Robot, which should be more humourous than it is, sounds like death to all technology. Even the exultations to “say yeah!” on the atmospheric Marmite are followed by a crowd roar with the pitch lowered, like a thousand Frank Brunos yelling to the skies. Elsewhere the sirens whirl, sharp bass sounds go right through the brain on headphones and the up front vocals come out the speakers with barely concealed intent.

All of which suggests Caspa is doing his job. Yet when MC Dynamite yells, “When you hear the gunshot time to get low!” in Rat-A-Tat-Tat, and the sharp report of a firearm flies across the stereo picture, the blood chills. It’s less blatant than some of the late 1990s’ more explicit UK garage moments of violence (remember Oxide & Neutrino?), but only just – and still fulfils that odd, uncomfortable notion of making firearms the centre of a song in rather sensitive times.

Fortunately a baleful trombone is on hand to quell the mood, as Victoria’s Secret starts in reflective fashion – not as balmy as the solo in Groove Armada‘s At The River, but sounding distinctly chilled in context. Then there’s Disco Jaws, an Audio Bullys-on speed moment of dark humour and hyperactive vocals. The jokes remain black, though.

Caspa saves the best til last in the form of the postlude Back To 93, an extended track that looks in exactly that direction with wonderfully moody pad sounds, old style rhythm and a complete lack of posturing.

On this evidence, though, it’s difficult to know how to view Caspa. There’s no question he is a talented producer, willing to push the boat out a bit, and ready to incite his dancefloor to ever greater heights of hedonism. He is most definitely one to watch.

Yet on the other hand a slightly schizophrenic musical mind suggests he might not have arrived yet at the style that suits him best. Dubstep will stay as his roots, a grounding in drum and bass and hip hop suggesting he’s unlikely to stray far, but it may be a little while longer before we can truly announce the ‘year of the ghost’.

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Caspa – Everybody’s Talking Nobody’s Listening