Truth: Puppets
Aquatic Lab

If Truth's Puppets doesn't rewrite the dubstep instruction manual, it certainly digs into the genre with no lack of passion and enthusiasm. All of the signature elements—heavy bass wobble, ominous voice samples, dread-fueled atmosphere, wailing sirens, and snares that hit with the force of sledgehammers—are present and accounted for in the fifteen raw tracks that make up the Christchurch, New Zealand outfit's collection. Digital Mystikz's Mala introduced Truth members Andre Ferndandez, Tristan Roake and Julian Van Uden to dubstep when he played them tracks by his artists on his Deep Medi Musik label, an experience that prompted them, so taken by what they heard, to commit themselves thenceforth to the genre (Truth has since appeared on Mala's label, as well as on Skream's Disfigured Dubz). Though Puppets is the trio's debut album, the group previously issued four twelve-inch releases on Aquatic Lab, with about half of those releases' eight cuts also appearing on the album.

It's easy to be seduced by the bass drops that plummet throughout “Dead Silence” (not to mention the cut's funky shuffle) and the combination of sub-bass wooziness and anvil beatsmithing that rolls through “Juno.” The addition of piano and plaintive vocalizing to the hammering pulse of “Legion” helps distinguish it from the bruising crowd, and a tightly wound setting such as “Lab Rat” conveys the considerable artistry the trio brings to the dubstep form. Elsewhere, Truth wends its way through territories cinematic (“Masters of the Stars”), exotic (“Terror Planet VIP,” “Wicked Vibe Broccoli”), dubbed-out (“Indigo Mood”), and dark (“Invaded”), with some tracks club-directed by design and others more conducive to headphones listening. The album's a tad overlong at seventy-one minutes, but nevertheless those with an insatiable appetite for dubstep in its classic form could do a whole lot worse than give their attention to Puppets.

September 2010