We have a new genre of music folks! Long live Folk-step. From dungeons of the South London town of Brixton (known as the drug capital of London) a sound was born. In May 2012, Alt-J (∆) released their debut album, “An Awesome Wave.” (We will get into the sound in a bit) The album reached 13 on the UK Charts, and won the prestigious Mercury Prize for Best album from the United Kingdom and Ireland. The album was then released state-side on September 18th, reaching only 134 on the Billboard top 200, this seems to show once again that Her Royal Majesty's progressive musical taste tends to be a step ahead of the average American's.
Now to Folk-step. Don't panic, it is not the horror that would be dub-step mixed with contemporary folk, but merely a word to describe the impossible. When trying to figure out a way to explain what I was hearing, I did some reading on this band, Alt-J. The term “folk-step” kept coming up, I'm not sure who coined it, but it is as good a description of their style as any.
“An Awesome Wave” puts the listener into a deep trance. Much like LSD, this album is not for the fickle, unstable, or faint of heart; a schizophrenic roller coaster that feels more like the slow, voyeuristic Spaceship Earth (EPCOT Center) than that of a Space Mountain (A Reference for the privileged). With their use of an intro, and 3 intermittently placed interludes, Alt-J gently cradles before releasing you into their alien vibrations. After the most intense highs of the album, the band seems to always know when the travel-worn and star-burnt listener is ready to be lulled back to peaceful sleep; with a promise of a trip continued.
My journey began in a cave. Some anonymous cave. A man sitting Indian style by a fire, was still covered by the shadows. His long gray beard was all that was clearly visible. He told stories of the hunt, and of the fortunes that the gods had brought men past and present. He spoke to the fire, preaching tradition and fairytale lore. I floated with the smoke out of the cave's mouth and into the atmosphere. Beams of light, purple and red, pierced through my body as I laid on the nothingness. I was in a lucid state of euphoria that was proved too heavy for the thin air, sending me crashing back to the ground, earth I assumed. From here, things got foggy. All that I can remember was sitting at a table with the the Lord of the Andromeda Galaxy in front of me, and the War Lord of the Triangulum Galaxy beside me; they were listening to dub-step. After what seemed like an eternity of ear-drum bursting noise, I played Alt-J and explained that earth people are calling it “Folk-step.” After listening to “An Awesome Wave,” the Lord of the Andromeda galaxy spoke first;
“You see, Dub-step is the traditional-folk that our ancestors have played for millions of years. We love it for its simplicity. Artists like Skrillex, Bengo and Skream honor a time-tested tradition. We here are all classicalists, and this folk-step is not something that is going to last, not that we would care for it to. In fact, the very idea that this new genre of music could spread and be the fault of dub-step, has put me in a very difficult position. I have two choices: Let Alt-J continue down its destined path, wherever it may lead, or destroy earth now, and eliminate the possibility of success.”
The War Lord, before beaming me back to earth, whispered in my ear,
“What is all this obsession with “dub-step” anyway?”