DUBSTEP ALLSTARS Vol. 4: CD ONE
Caution: master at work! CD1 ov this Tempa double-pak is given over to Youngsta which, initially, starts w/ a masterclass in Zen-like restraint, leaving chasm-like spaces in the music that allow our imaginations to join the dots/fill in the blanks. Four tracks in, Digital Mystikz' "Blue Notez" fires off a series of modulated percussive blips, followed by some languid sax syncopation that sounds like UB40 on ketamine: snares built from smears of whitenoise give the riddim-track the sense of gravitational drag, that it's using its fingernails to claw its way thru a dense, heavy-gravity field, pulling itself along by sheer will-power...microscopically-short delay on a rimshot makes it sound like a muffled blow to a girder, and what sounds like 606-snares momentarily bounce in and out of the sound-field...varispeed delay puts the music on a repeat spin/rinse cycle as it segues into D1's "Missin", wh/ emerges from the mix like a family of robotic beetles on legs of restless, clicking percussion.
You can feel Youngsta's brain shifting its (neural) centre of gravity, slowly taking the mix up a gear with ominous 70s stringmaschine chords and Russian choir stabs, but the modulated bass undertow of Loefah's "System" threatens to pull the carpet out from under us as the track lurches out from a Moorish black-domed undercity. The D1 mix of Skream's "Warning" reeks of mock-Teutonic electo-pomp; of sour, detuned arpeggiations and rheumatically-stiff beats: I fucking love it. It's uptight, anxiously fretful and so beautifully, beautifully European...
I also loooove the fluttering, Lieutenant Pigeon-esque pianette motifs, the filtered, downshifting drums and phaaaat-arsed robotik-skank of Skream's "Rottan vip", one of the skunk-addl'd highlites of my recent pilgrimage to FWD>>...
D1's"Firing Blanks" announces its arrival with more stiff-neck'd Euro-synthstring flourishes, like a fanfare for some forgotten New Beat despot, then opens itself up to slow-modulating bassdrift and clattering percussion: this blend of Dubstep's bass n beatmanship w/ synthetik Retro-Euro is a heady mix indeed, an interesting and unexpected turn of events that's getting old syntheads like me all hot n frothy...the clinical classicalism & icy-cold post-NB key-sounds make surprisingly good bedfellows w/ contemporary urban bass music: it'll be interesting to see if this just turns out to be a red herring and only D1 takes the music down this route...but the ridigity of modern Fruity Loops-generated beats fit that ol' class of 89 sound perfectly. Dubstep goes Euro: hmmmm...I'll be watching D1's next batch of releases w/ interest...
Headhunter (from H.E.N.C.H.)'s "Descent" has been around a while now w/ its parping synthorn sound, ominously hovering digi-keys and strident halfspeed stalker-beats, but it works really well in the context of this mix. Recommended.
D1's "Greazy" is built from loping, wolf-like beats and square-wave, almost Grimey, synthenvelopes; very different to his other tracks, but Me Like! I thought the choice of synthsounds on his "Degrees", "Identify" & "Molecules" twelve on Tempa a few months back were original (yet also strangely familar), and his beats were oddly fractured and Asian-sounding, reminding me of, I dunno, Ken Ishii maybe, or Red Cell, or some of the mid-90s abstract techno on GPR, etc. It makes a nice change from some of the gnarly halfsteppy post-drum n bass stuff that I suspect we'll be hearing a lot more of...
Still, Youngsta's "Live at Forward>> June 04" was one of the things that dragged me into all this nonsense (first time I heard "Horror Show", etc), so it's great to hear him pushing the sound forward into its next incarnation(s)...also great to finally hear him play in the flesh a couple weeks ago.
Full track listing:
1. Dub Period - Skream
2. Ruffage - Loefah
3. Morning Blues - Skream
4. Blue Notez - Digital Mystikz
5. Missin' - D1
6. System - Loefah
7. Warning - Skream
8. Rottan VIP - Skream
9. Mud - Loefah
10. Cocaine - D1
11. Welcome 2 The Future - Skream
12. Hunter - Digital Mystikz
13. Firin' Blanks - D1
14. Descent - Headhunter
15. Foundation - D1
16. Dream Paths - Headhunter
17. Greazy - D1
18. Deep Concentration - Skream
CD2 review to follow when I've caught me breath....