The recent transition of Croydon dubstep pioneer Skream (a.k.a. Oliver Jones) towards disco and house has been greeted with a fair bit of consternation in some circles. It's not particularly hard to see why this is the case, given the magnitude of the producer's departure from dubstep and the coinciding resurgent popularity of house and garage in the UK, but in many ways, the move shouldn't be all that surprising. The producer has already experienced substantial commercial success with Magnetic Man—the trio consisting of himself, Benga, and Artwork—has remixed Duke Dumont's huge pop-house hit "Need U," and has spent most of his recent interviews banging on about how tired he is of playing dubstep while professing his love for disco and house. If the buoyant disco beats of "Rollercoaster"—which features Sam Frank on vocals—don't come entirely as a shock though, what is surprising is just how conventional they sound.
The tune is a glossy slice of neo-disco, which opens with a vocoded voice and steady claps before it launches into a fully fledged disco groove, complete with shuffling guitars and technicolor synths, the whole thing rounded out with Frank's Jamiroquai-esque vocals. "Rollercoaster" is catchy and well-produced enough, but with its almost focus-grouped precision, the song ends up feeling like an approximation of the glitz and glamor of disco rather than an effective engagement with it. This is a real shame and surprise, particularly when they're contrasted with Jones' frankly excellent remixes of Duke Dumont ("Need U") and Rudimental ("Hell Could Freeze") from earlier this year, both of which suggested the producer's move towards disco had the potential to be as interesting as his dubstep career.
The remixes bundled with "Rollercoaster" unfortunately fare little better than the original. Drop the Lime alias Curses' version pairs the vocals with bubbling bass and synthesized strings in a largely failed effort to give it a bit more heft. Hrdvsion similarly beefs up the track's low end, while Jimmy Edgar offers the most effective reinterpretation of the track, reimagining it as a futurist techno ballad. Put simply, "Rollercoaster" is a disappointingly insipid first proper disco outing from a producer who's already dabbled in the style to some degree of success; perhaps something better is on the horizon.
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