New band of the day – No 676: Samuel and the Dragon

Ever wondered what Chris Martin would sound like singing over demos of the last Portishead album? Then you'd better investigate this electro duo ...

Hometown: London.

The lineup: Samuel Chase (vocals) and James Cameron (electronics).

The background: There was a great feature in the Guardian a few weeks back about dubstep label Hyperdub; it was one of those articles that made you want to put down the paper and rush off to download all the music being written about in it. The gist of it seemed to be that, like UK garage, which was a more accessible, commercially viable form of jungle, now 10 years on dubstep is being "feminised" or at least afforded the kind of accoutrements – such as pretty synth patterns and vocal melodies from either girls or robo-male voices Auto-Tuned to the point of androgyny – that might draw in listeners otherwise alienated by the music. Darkstar's Aidy's Got a Computer, Kode9's Black Sun and 2000F and J Kamata's You Don't Know What Love Is are exquisite examples of the increasing song-ification of the genre, ones that truly give the lie to the idea that electronic-based music cannot be "emotional".

The XX this year posited themselves as a sort of dubstep Young Marble Giants, locating the common ground between post-punk, known for its dub space, and dubstep itself, all skeletal arrangements and jittery electronics. Whether by default or design, Samuel and the Dragon have, on their debut single, Diamonds On a Boat b/w Rising Up, produced two songs that in their rhythms and use of technology nod towards dubstep. They're quite striking. On Diamonds On a Boat, a recent Xfm record of the week, singer Samuel Chase – who according to the press release had "arty beginnings on the stages and in the galleries of Belfast and Dublin" – together with his partner James Cameron, whose background was in the grime and rave-era clubs of Leicestershire, have created a successful template for this new form of "song-step" or drum'n'pop. With sparse beats interrupted by the occasional synth squiggle and Chase's plaintive, look-back-in-anguish croon, it's like hearing Chris Martin singing over demos of the last Portishead album. Rising Up, mixing up the synthetic and organic, features organ and the distant hum of wonky bass, percussive clicks and bleeps. Because of the haunting, hymnal quality of the A-side, its minimal, brooding music and the soulful vocal, some are hailing Diamonds as a new Unfinished Sympathy, dubstep's breakout tune. It doesn't quite feel that epochal but it does point towards an exciting pop future influenced by dubstep production techniques.

The buzz: "If you thrilled to the XX's rich dubstep torch songs, you'll be all over this dreamy, slo-core synth number."

The truth: If you like songs where the gaps and spaces sound as immaculately produced as the music, you'll love this, even though we're not sure who the dragon is.

Most likely to: Inspire Chris Martin to duet with Burial.

Least likely to: Win awards for their name.

What to buy: Debut single Diamonds On a Boat is out now on Moshi Moshi Singles Club. S&TD play at London's Hoxton Bar & Kitchen tonight.

File next to: Goldfrapp, Massive Attack, Alpha, the XX.

Links: myspace.com/samuelandthedragon

Tomorrow's new band: Best Coast.

Contributor

Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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