CD, Record Label Records / Kush Arora Productions, 2009
“Boiling Over” steers Kush Arora’s unique take on global bass, in his own words, “away from the club and into the head.” Not that this San Francisco Bay Area dubstep wizard, with fingers and toes in seemingly every collaboration and project in that community’s dub strongholds, has any desire to depart nightlife and retire to the armchair indefinitely, however. With “Boiling Over” Arora aims at an emotive and stylistic overview of his material, shifting away from his ‘dread bass’ work and instead focusing on a collection of non-vocal tracks, more original material that relies on melodic elements like horns and flutes to tug at sentimental strings.
Calling it introspective dubstep may well ring Burial-wannabe alarms for some, but this stuff is worlds apart. The son of New Delhi parents, Arora’s style has evolved through immersion in ‘bhang ragga’, a fascinating hybrid of traditional Punjabi forms of music and dance (bhangra) with dancehall (ragga) that developed in the UK around the mid-90s. Many of his cuts, not to mention the collaborations with various dub/ragga producers and emcees (Sub Swara, MC Zulu, Warrior Queen, N4SA, etc.), round out a picture of what ‘Indian grime’ might entail – gritty, garage-spawned riddim-burners channeled from South Asia that don’t hesitate to mesh digital dancehall flavor and voracious bassbins with dhol drumming and tumbi twangs.
As suggested above, “Boiling Over” contains few explicit examples of these boisterous folk infusions, but the skillful distillation of influences over its seven throbbing and heady tracks is readily apparent. The introspection is as profound as it is dark, oozing with bass undertows that suck you down and keep you there, and ambiences from the subcontinent quiver and dart through layers of superb production. Mystical grinder “Alabaster Dub Remix (Industrial Espionage Mix)” is a prime example, while tracks like “The Staircase” and “Constructing the Absence” bubble and seethe, burrowing into your head with pressure-cooker atmospheres. Arora himself calls “We’re Upstairs” a ‘psychedelic techno stepper’, its off-and-on urgent beat juxtaposed with lazy brass, soft pads and wormy dub. This recommended release showcases global bass at its cleanest and best, with Arora hands down delivering the ruminative groove he promises.
— Dutton Hauhart