“Some people make music for inside the clubs, but not me. I make music for the food stands outside.” -Burial
About the Genre
UK Garage exists in a vacuum, located in an odd space between house, 2-step, dubstep, and IDM. According to its Wikipedia page, “The genre usually features a distinctive syncopated 4/4 percussive rhythm with ‘shuffling’ hi-hats and beat-skipping kick drums. Garage tracks also commonly feature ‘chopped up’ and time-shifted or pitch-shifted vocal samples complementing the underlying rhythmic structure.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. For some reason, ‘shuffling’ is the first adjective that comes to mind when I think about this genre.
As evidenced by the Burial quote at the beginning of this entry, UK Garage, in a stark contrast to the more ‘ignorant’ genres that dominate the music market (such as big-room house, trap, and brostep), isn’t made for the club. It isn’t created to be the soundtrack to your drunken escapades, or your quest to take a girl home from the bar after a night of dancing; It’s made for those moments in which the lights have dimmed, the bass has stopped pumping, and the MDMA has worn off, and you’re left to contemplate the questionably ethical decisions you made that night.
All that being said, UK Garage isn’t inherently depressing (although it’s very dark), and it could easily serve as the soundtrack to a night spent in bed in a dimly lit room.
And Now, Some Examples
The Mainstream: UK Garage wouldn’t exist without Burial. Easily the most well-known contributor to the genre, he purposefully obfuscated his identity for most of his career in a (successful) attempt to force his fans to focus on his music, rather than his public persona.
The Up-and-Coming: Holy Other, another mysterious English producer, creates music that isn’t quite as textural as Burial’s, and definitely exhibits more characteristics of contemporary electronic music (so you can actually dance to it).
You’re a Hipster If You Listen To: M.J. Cole, yet another English producer, is most well-known for more uplifting, house-inspired tunes, as opposed to the usual darkness of Garage music.
That concludes our crash course on UK Garage. Thank you for reading!