Scuba: Personality
Hotflush Recordings

Paul Rose is leading the way in more ways than one. Not only does he curate the trailblazing Hotflush Recordings imprint (home to Sepalcure, Mount Kimbie, and others), he's also the man behind Scuba, whose new eleven-track Personality follows his 2010 sophomore effort Triangulation and an acclaimed contribution to the DJ Kicks series. Rose's comfort level with a wide range of styles is evident throughout the hour-long album, as dub, techno, funk, soul, house, and even drum'n'bass are synthesized into an always arresting and energized hybrid that's fresh, trippy, and club-ready in the extreme.

A skilful arranger, Rose has a way of taking a modest number of materials and exploiting their potential to the fullest. “Action,” for example, hits fabulously hard, despite being built up from little more than a one-word motif and a driving beat pulse. He takes such elements, however, and progressively spins them into a mesmerizing exercise in pumping, dub-techno nirvana. “If U Want” likewise uses the chanted title as a springboard for what quickly grows into a jacking floor-filler, though Rose also challenges expectations by having the track take an unexpected detour through a jazzy, piano-centered zone before heading home with a few minutes of euphoric blaze. Samples (and field recordings, too, it seems) also play a key part in the Scuba sound, with many a track pulling a soulful vocal sample or equivalent into its heady orbit. While a classic drum'n'bass groove provides the low-down backbone to “Cognitive Dissonance,” for instance, Rose isn't afraid to sprinkle it with a fluttering synthesizer shower borrowed from Kraftwerk's “Hall of Mirrors.”

Such a refreshingly open-minded stance definitely works to his advantage. In the Scuba universe, it makes perfect sense to update a robotic ‘80s-styled electro-funk jam with flurries of soulful vocal accents and blinding synth smears (as happens during “Ignition Key”), and “Dsy Chn” even flirts with ambient and prog in its less beat-centered moments. At day's end, however, some of Personality's tracks, such as the raging soul-house anthem “NE1BUTU” and the bass-throbbing brain-addler “The Hope,” suggest one should forgo analysis altogether and simply surrender to the seductive power of the Scuba sound. There's no lack of personality here.

February 2012