Scuba: The Amorphous Sounds Of U.K. Bass

Apr 18, 2012

Since the release of his first full-length album in 2008, A Mutual Antipathy, Paul Rose has been a primary sculptor of the amorphous U.K. bass sound. Both as a producer (releasing dark techno cuts as SCB and off-kilter bass music as Scuba) and as head of the Hotflush Records label, Rose has been a primary engine behind the evolution of British electronic dance music.

Like U.K. bass as a whole, Scuba's work evolves constantly. Where A Mutual Antipathy delved into the deeper realms of earlier U.K. dubstep, his second album Triangulation experimented with elements of dubstep's ancestor, drum and bass. His most recent album, Personality, builds upon these ideas with a more pop-centric focus. Scuba sprinkles mid-'90s big beat throughout the record, and relies on a steady 4/4 drum pattern for many of its compositions.

"Underbelly" encapsulates much of Scuba's progression — and diversity — within a single song. The track gets into gear through a 4/4 drum kick, held under a dank synth loop and a few sound effects that sound as though they could have been recorded in a wide-open warehouse. As the steady bass kick gives way, a cascading flurry of high-pitched notes ping-pongs between the left and right side of the sound spectrum, bridging into a cut-time beat that spaces and staggers the opening drum kicks. The rhythmic switch changes the feel to a noticeable degree, but doesn't drastically alter the song's identity. Like Scuba's larger body of work, it's both varied and consistent.

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