After the initial rush of jungle in the early ‘90s, post-jungle acts like Lamb, Morcheeba and Nicolette emerged like fully formed beatific butterflies from their cocoons. From creative free-spiritedness, jungle/drum & bass had hardened into dark, hard sci-fi tech-step by the late ‘90s, and so these more downtempo acts provided the antidote – and the space to explore.
With Lamb, for instance, beatsmith Andy Barlow wove polyrhythmic breakbeats around Louise Rhodes’ gorgeous breathy vocals to make a new sound that filled arenas. As it was then with post-jungle, so it is now - when too much dubstep has become synonymous with brostep - with the post-dubstep soul of Lulu James.
Hailing from South Shields near Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the North of England, Lulu only found out she could sing when she picked up the mic at a friend’s party one night. Enrolling on a music development course, she met her producer and co-writer Domzilla and they started crafting tender, delicate songs influenced by the vulnerability of James Blake and Jamie xx’s work with Gil Scott Heron.
Early fruits have included the divine, enveloping ‘Rope Mirage’ - with its tale of a lost soul on a winter’s day – which glistens like morning dew. ‘The End’ meanwhile, all shimmery beats and distant tones with Lulu’s lilting vocals laid languorously on top, is further evidence that her star is going to shine irrevocably this year.
The blogosphere has already called her things like ‘retro post-dubstep bashment’ and ‘melodramatic dub-pop’ but we’re going to need to come up with new genre names and superlatives to capture everything that this smart young lady is going to unleash in the coming months.