New band of the day – No 917: Girl Unit

Londoner Philip Gamble is keeping the flag flying for freaky sonics with his winning blend of dubstep, juke and drag

Hometown: London.

The lineup: Philip Gamble (music, production).

The background: Girl Unit is our favourite new dubstep producer/artist since, ooh, Fantastic Mr Fox last Tuesday. In fact Philip Gamble, the 24-year-old Londoner behind the GU mask, draws whether by design or default on a lot of our favourite music of the moment, confirming our suspicion that there is a confluence of agenda among the juke, drag and dubstep people right now. Listening to Gamble's remixes and his own tracks, we are reminded variously of the darkly monolithic synth chords of Salem's witch house, the relentlessly twitchy beats and chopped-and-diced R&B vocals from DJ Nate's fancily frenetic footwork (we've just got a copy of his hour-long, 25-track Da Trak Genious CD and it is, frankly, barking) and the abstract dubstep of FFF and Becoming Real.

We don't know much about Gamble except that he began DJing circa 2006-7 as Girl U No It's True, a Barry White-sampling name if ever we saw one. Actually, it could be a Milli Vanilli-sampling name, but we're rejecting that possibility if only because Gamble has such good taste. And by "good taste", we're not implying he's offering a smooth puree of dubstep/drag/whatever, just that he clearly knows how to make these genres rubs along together effectively in the mix. We might even go so far as to suggest that, amid the mad drama and crashing chaos of his music, there is a certain pop sensibility at work – and that Girl Unit, and not Joy Orbison or Jakwob or Joker, might be the one to push through in 2011 and become the dubstep act to make it in the mainstream Mercury prize world; that he'll be the one who keeps the flag flying for freaky sonics while his former peer James Blake moves away from all that wobbly bass nonsense towards The Song.

There are songs here – it's just that they're, shall we say, a tad abstract. Temple Keys features an itchy, glitchy version of house's 4/4 rhythm – or, to put it another way, it's like garage's 2-step jerk trying to go straight. The much-hyped Wut is a grandiose mass of drum-claps, twinkly high notes and glacial ravey chords that appear, like the female voice throughout it, to have been tweaked for dramatic effect. IRL is moody, doomy darktronica comprising massive slabs of keyboard interspersed with popping bass beats and what sound like effects left over from Trevor Horn's production of Propaganda's 1984 single Dr Mabuse. You'll hate Every Time if you don't like those super-sped-up whinnying vocals from juke or the idea of R&B at 200bpm, and you'll only love the aptly titled, colossal, clattering culmination that is Showstoppa if you can face an enormous avalanche of all these elements at once. We can – but then, we had an early night.

The buzz: "Wut has been rinsed on, erm, Rinse, talked about vociferously across the forums, hailed as one of the singles of the year, and now it's finally arrived in the shops" –

The truth: Wut's going on? Girl Unit is.

Most likely to: Convey dread in his music.

Least likely to: Grow dreadlocks.

What to buy: Wut is out now on Night Slugs.

File next to: DJ Nate, Salem, Joker, Becoming Real.


Friday's new band: Io Echo.


Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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