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J:Kenzo’s first full-length in seven years is a manifesto of grit, guts, brains, and brawns [Album Review]


Today is a good day for dubstep. J:Kenzo‘s second studio album, Taygeta Code, is officially out today via the UK dubstep label, Artikal Music. The Southeast Englishman has long been known for his sub-heavy dubstep with echoes of jungle, dancehall, and house. Highly influenced by the sounds of both jungle and UK garage during their peak in 1995, it wasn’t until 2005 when the emerging dubstep scene inspired the Soul Shakerz founder to release his career-defining single, “Tekno Bass.”

Flash forward a decade-and-a-half and J:Kenzo is still proving that true artistry can never be rushed. Capitalizing on his first full-length effort in seven years, J:Kenzo’s Taygeta Code represents an insatiable slice of the dubstep pie, a true tastemaker’s delight, and a manifesto of grit, guts, brains, and brawns. Not to mention, the project is dripping with hearty emotion. From the downtempo breakbeats, soul-snatching sub-bass, and hopeful vocals of “Broken Dreams” to the jungle-infused drum work, computerized tones, and analog synths of “Deadbull,” the first half of the LP strikes straight into the jugular.

The 11-track masterpiece doesn’t fall into the typical vein of dubstep that one might expect these days. Especially not in the bland, over-commercialized body of heavy, headbanging dubstep. No easy templates or cookie-cutter progressions here, just an exploration in subwoofer sound, rumbling low-ends, and the dark depths of where the mind can take you.

A stand-out on the album is the closing track, “Starseed 47,” which represents a true pallet cleanser for what may be to come out of J:Kenzo’s experimental sonic toolbelt. With a deep, dark downtempo allure, layered underneath hymn-like melodic chords, the song provides the perfect close to Taygeta Code‘s cutting-edge sound design. The only yearning listeners may be left with is the constant, insatiable need for more.

It’s future, minimalist, tribal, industrial, hip-hop, glitch-hop, and so much else—all rolled into one cleanly-trimmed main course and served on a finely-tuned, technically-brazen platter. Perhaps it can even be read as a memoir on the death of dubstep, but also as a statement in how all death procedes new life. Whatever the case, J:Kenzo proves himself a true visionary of the experimental bass movement.