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Album Review: Subtronics – Tesseract 

One of the issues I am starting to run into as a music reviewer is being overwhelmed with new releases. I mean, hell, there are about three more album reviews I have lined up before I can finally get to Beyoncé, and while having extra time to write my last will and testament is nice, it means I’m going to get bogged down sooner or later trying to keep up with everything. Still, just because I’m flooded with new and popular releases doesn’t mean I don’t have time to look at something with a lower profile that might’ve slipped under the radar, and that’s what brought me to today’s album review, which came out in February.

Far from being an EDM genre for people into BDSM, Subtronics is an EDM/Dubstep producer from Philadelphia who is so independent that the list of labels he has released music under is longer than the list of genres he does and has been a pretty respected player in the underground for a decent time now, collaborating with artists like Skrillex and Excision, and gaining a decent following from his “Now That’s What I Call Riddim” series of mixtapes which notably, features little to any actual riddim on them. From there, he’d go on to be decently prolific in creating eps through 2018-2020, but after 2020, he took a bit of a break to work on his debut, Fractals, which was released in 2022. 

Now, as far as electronic debuts go, you could definitely do worse than Fractals, but then again, you could also do worse than getting naked and covering yourself in gasoline as far as coping mechanisms go. Still, I don’t recommend it either. It ran as a decent enough, if extremely brainless and somewhat grating, run of dubstep club ragers. So, an obscure electronic producer releases an above-average debut; no one cares, and we all go on with our lives. So why am I covering this album? Well, partially because one of my friends has been hounding me to talk about this album for a while, so this is for you, Alex, but also because, as I was shown some of the singles and select tracks off his newest album, Tesseract, I was intrigued by some of the sounds being brought forth, and so I decided to check it out and see what Subtronics was getting on with here.

Perhaps I should explain what genre of electronic Subtronics dabbles in, that being Brostep, a genre somewhat notorious for being considered “dogshit” if you excuse my dense academic jargon, basically being the end product of all the most brainless and club/festival-focused EDM you can get, forgoing any focus on sub-bass so deep it turns your subwoofers into hair dryers and focusing more on aggressive and earworm melodies. You will catch on to this pretty fast by the first track, “Cottage Gore” which is basically one sparkly melody slowly getting beat to death by dubstep drums and a drop that does the most obvious dubstep drop you can imagine with the most played-out wubs you will ever know, and despite all of that still sticks in my mind as a highlight, maybe only because that main melody is so catchy it should be paying weekly rent for how much it won’t leave my head. 

Now, apparently, this album isn’t pure brostep, according to RateYourMusic, it’s technically considered “Briddim,” which I absolutely refuse to believe is a real genre name, but it is essentially a mix of Brostep and Riddim, a genre known for wet metallic sound palettes, like you got stuck in an abandoned factory in the rain that’s also suffering epilepsy. This does not show as hard on track 2 “The Only Star You See” which isn’t as focused on hard drops, but more on a solid vocal melody and a driving funky drumbeat, with quite beautiful synths, I won’t say it’s particularly memorable but it’s definitely nice while it lasts. 

On the total opposite end of the spectrum, we have track 3, “Amnesia,” which is a loud and abrasive piece of dubstep built around samples of the Dracula Flow videos. Though, at the very least, memes have a pretty deep precedent in brostep, even all the way back to scary monsters and nice sprites, and while it’s stupid as all hell and even slightly annoying, it’s also irreverent and punky in a way that’s appropriately fun and easy to bop along to.

Unfortunately, the good tone set by the opening 3 tracks can’t be maintained and track 4 “Afternoon Coffee” is a pretty lethargic and emotionless piece of dubstep hip hop, that almost feels like it’s trying to make me tired and bored of it’s predictable and boring sound palettes. Other lowlights include “Dreams” which is a somewhat limp and tepid dance track where the only dance I could see myself doing to it is the one where I stand in the corner of the party and hope no one talks to me, “Reality Distortion” which is basically just a repeat of “Cottage Gore” but replace that song’s good melody with the one I couldn’t pick out from a police lineup, and “Quantum Queso” which mainly just glides through my ears while still being annoying enough to make me skip it when it comes on.

I think the album’s main issue is that too many tracks sound similar to each other. That’s not an issue unique to this album—it’s a plague of lots of brostep—but after hearing basically the same drop over and over again, it makes me desperately wish Subtronics would do a piano ballad or perhaps switch over to reciting drug PSAs from the 90s to stave the boredom. 

It’s not all bad; there are some standout bangers like the almost progressive and free-form “Alien Communication ” or the bouncy and clubby “Black Ice” with Rezz, which still maintains a solid dark atmosphere, and the two final tracks close the album out quite perfectly. “Omnidirectional” is the absolute highlight of the album, with a slew of fun samples and an instrumental palette swelling with all kinds of new tricks throughout. Then, the closer “Buried Alive” closes out with a sugary and absolutely nuts conclusion that feels like a true sugar rush to the early grave, which eating too much sugar or listening to too much brostep probably leads to.

So that’s Tesseract then, a few really fun bangers and some truly good ideas with the electronic genres it blends, but stuck too much in tired and predictable dubstep sounds with not enough variation to keep me wanting to listen to it instead of binge eating Reese’s puffs and playing 90’s boomer shooters. Still, it has enough good ideas that I’d say it’s worth checking out if you’re interested, and it at least has more fun and freedom than any committee-driven corporate pop you can find, speaking of which, can’t wait to review Ariana Grande.


Kate Megathlin

Hello there stranger, this is Kate Megathlin, writer for weekly music reviews for the Seattle Collegian, here to assert how much more important her opinions are than yours. She is a Seattle Central student with a major love of music and music culture, and every week she’ll try to deliver reviews of new albums coming out, if you want to recommend albums for her to review, email her at

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