In 2009, after spending the best part of two decades swimming in the underground scene, the hype surrounding dubstep became too great, and it overflowed into the mainstream. Mainstream, in this case, meant appearing on the DJ sets of student union night outs, getting onto Spotify playlists, and racking up millions of views on YouTube.
Dubstep’s boom in 2009 can be largely attributed to Circus Records, founded that year by two friends out of Northamptonshire. Shaun Brockhurst and Joshua Steele, aka Doctor P and Flux Pavillion, together brought dubstep into ‘the charts’, and the dirty, syncopated beats became the latest must-have for any playlist.
Asaf Borger, aka Borgore, a 21-year-old DJ from Tel Aviv, took the ‘dirty’ stereotype of the dubstep genre and doubled down, or tripled down, on the filthy sound. Taking the now established character of the genre and creating a version so pure it was almost caricature, Borgore was an instant hit in the early days of dubstep.
But from 2009 to 2017, Borgore was always tongue in cheek, and could never by any means be played to your parents. His first hit, Nympho, opposed easy-listening in every sense, and featured self-penned lyrics such as ‘Hey kids it’s Borgore, do you know what’s hardcore? Me shoving an elephant up your sisters back door.” Thump said in a scathing review of the debut album #NewGoreOrder, “I can write a whole album about how bad of a rapper Borgore is.”
Nearly ten years later, after riding the wave of an often unpalatable sound, Borgore, whom LA Weekly once called the ‘bad boy of EDM’, has just released a jazz album.
Whilst it’s not a completely unironic venture – track three is called ‘weed or without you’ – the songs are nearly void of humour. They are completely honourable jazz ventures; though they stray from the path of what a jazz critic might be willing to classify into traditional or mainstream, they are sincere efforts in a genre not Borgore’s own.
The songs change up time signatures without a second thought – indeed, this may be the only sign of Borgore’s earlier artistic personality shining through – but the rest of the content of all six songs on the album honours the sound you might expect from a jazz album released in 2018.
And in general, his piano melodies accompanying the skilful drums are memorable, and elegant, whilst being edgy enough for any ageing fans of his earlier work not to switch off before the minute mark of the first song. Asaf Borger, now thirty-years-old, has something to offer those experiencing a hangover from a decade of EDM.
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Let us not forget how rare genre switching actually is. Many artists blend their expertise into hybrids, in fact, many do it just to survive, but abandoning your ‘bread and butter’ isn’t too common in the music world, where risks can end your career.
Jazz is not a new side of Borgore’s life – even though it is known to the public – and it shows. The album, Adventures in Time, is thoroughly enjoyable, and palatable. This, in turn, is the irony of Borgore’s venture; his jazz debut will bring new ears to the genre, whilst his presence in the dubstep universe was always met with contention.
All in all, Adventures in Time is a bold show of confidence, made possible by a no fucks given DJ, with a decade’s worth of experience rejecting critique, taste, or sensibility.