‘.wav’ ushers in a new era of Flux Pavilion [Album Review]
There are few artistic projects that have chiseled a place in dance music quite as immovably as Joshua Steele’s Flux Pavilion. Six years after the September 18, 2015 installation of his debut album Tesla, Flux has released his sophomore LP .wav, and it’s apparent that Steele has graciously poured every piece of himself into the project.
With a catalog of timeless triumphs such as “Emotional,” “Bass Cannon,” and of course, the resounding hit of a decade, “I Can’t Stop,” the producer has solidified his identity as a pioneer of bass music, paving the way for every single DJ/producer who has succeeded him in the space, and even beyond it. Although it’s no secret that Flux’s sound has deviated from his original dubstep persuasion, what the album lacks in its inclusion of the elements that contributed to his earlier heavy bass identity, it makes up for with top-tier production, artistry, and heart.
After Flux gave his loyal fans a fair warning by outrightly stating in a January 11, 2021 tweet that he is “no longer a dubstep person,” many of his avid, OG followers held on tight in preparation for the album’s release just a few weeks later.
For those who’d followed Flux throughout the years, the Twitter declaration didn’t exactly send shockwaves. One can easily argue that the electronic purveyor has not been producing dubstep for years; he did release more than half of .wav’s 16-song tracklist over the course of the past three years, after all. Marking the beginning of the album’s rollout with “Symphony” in 2018, Flux carried on churning out hits from the album—such as his 2019 collaboration with What So Not “20:25“—all the way up until the day before .wav‘s release. “Fall To Me,” released on January 20, would be the final preview of .wav sound before the LP arrived in full the very next day.
Opening with the wonky portrait of the technologically inspired, “Every Cable Goes Somewhere,” it quickly becomes clear that .wav spins an auditory voyage. The album seamlessly weaves upbeat vocal conquests such as “You & I” and “Sink Your Teeth In” with harmonious instrumental anthems like “Twitterbird” with deep, emotional cuts like “I Will Stay” and “Breathe.” Pulling from influence from Anamanaguchi, the contortion of synths on .wav ranges from choppy and buoyant to wide-spanning and explosive. Listeners are given a glimpse back into an earlier but well-known version of Flux with his own blaring rendition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Partial Fugue in B Minor.” This glimmer of familiarity shines as Flux simultaneously enters completely uncharted terrain in the context of his release history, as displayed by .wav‘s final song “LOVE,” especially.
There are clear separations between the artists who deliver albums just for the sake of putting out new music and the artists who put their heart and soul into a project. Blending heartfelt lyricism with Flux’s unique sound and over a decade’s worth of production knowledge, .wav belongs to a creative who can most certainly be classified as the latter.
The LP’s title is also a nod to the sound that it embodies. .wav derives from “WAV (Waveform Audio File Format),” which is universally recognized as a higher resolution file than an MP3, for instance. Not coincidentally, .wav frames Flux’s new sound as higher-quality and more deliberate and intentioned than anything he has ever released before. Working with analogue synthesizers rather than digital, the album processes a more full-bodied and honed sound that many producers in the industry have not yet begun to master.
Dubstep fanatics of the mid-2000’s might have a harder time rallying behind this album, but there is no denying that .wav is by far the most intricate and well-produced body of work that Steele has put forth in his long-spanning career. Attention to the subtlety and nuance of electronic sound over his once-preferred thunderous bass has allowed listeners to hear and appreciate a different and all-encompassing view of Flux. Although the album towers tall over even his highest charting tracks of the past decade, the most gratifying part of the endeavor is the thought that this new era of Flux Pavilion is only the beginning of his sonic evolution.
Featured image: Fiona Garden