After Volume 3 revelled in accepting missions of infiltrating clandestine factions and subversive bass metamorphoses, Volume 4 arrives with an expansion team staying both on-point and ahead of the pack by cultivating its dubstep rams and raids. Jakes begins the fourth quarter with more of the same speaker stalking and severing, despite being backed by a gameshow choir that could make you millions, and Kryptic Minds and Steve Digital explore contrasting digital lost worlds where one wrong move and the walls cave in.
So Tectonic have hardly lightened up, but in places the belligerence taking secrets to the grave has been told it can cross into maximalist subject matter and makes the mood less profound. Of the skinnier assassins taking their place in the Bristol label’s latest line-up, Guido’s “State of Joy” is as much at home in the lounge as it is firing purple shots, and there’s a certain positive stride to Sinistarr & Texel’s “Decibell.” Pursuit Grooves’ “Hard Beginnings” seems to define tension, but becomes secure through expressing drama on the low. Bad news for crosshair marksmen, but more evidence of dubstep’s multiplex levels, especially when heads get upped by the footwork/trap networking from Decibel’s “Talk” and Mumdance & Logos’ “Drum Boss” evading definition by throwing down bass multiples. Ever turning evolution captured, the cut of the edge may have faintly, contentiously dulled, but Tectonic consistency still puts ample snap into a scene snapshot.
File under: Distal, Beneath, Jack Sparrow
Shedding light on best kept secrets from the vaults and unveiling a host of poisoned chalices and doomed prophecies, Pinch pulls together a personal collection of dubstep and all its interpretations around with a phantomly presence casting spells over a host of A-list labels. Amongst the starkness, the uneasy stillness of night interrupted by land-carving tremors of bass, and the paying of respects to original sound systems (a dubtronic remix mystery of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan), Tectonic spearhead Rob Ellis is between fearsome scaremonger and nonchalant puppet master, taking pride in pushing panic buttons activated strictly out of sight so as to up the anxiety tenfold.
Slow but sure will always win the race ahead of blasting brains all over walls (regardless of a few clips emptying on “Attack of the Giant Killer Robot Spiders”), although Pinch still un-sheaths a precision sharpness and cruelty that majors in camouflaging fear factors when stealing your soul away. “Cave Dream” is an underfed pet straining at the leash, the rework of 30Hz’ “Mutate(d)” reeks of bad blood, and “E.Motive” is simply gorgeously intense, leaving the stricken howling at the moon. The classic remix of Emika’s “Double Edge,” with its troubling dial tone made to break you down, is the eternal Tectonic knife edge, and only the brash vocals to his mix of “Rise Up” suspends the hush. The best possible to way to catch up on a stellar career that can only continue ascending.
File under: Loefah, Slaughter Mob, Ruckspin
Bristol’s Tectonic label, the guardians of the dark arts, ancient secrets and sacred skills in dubstep and bass, set up a third upsurge of aftershocks formed by irresistible militia. After fire is opened by a tremendous opening salvo from venomous scheme team Kryptic Minds, Tunnidge and Pinch send in epically brooding Trojan horses, spearheading a collection armed with tenterhooks, tripwires, knife edges and hair triggers. While the force through restraint and meticulousness is admirable, putting the strange and beautiful into the dead of night, you’re thinking it can only be a matter of time before a deserter begins dissenting and blows the whole project open after such a blockbuster hush.
Goth Trad’s “Mach” puts feelers out and begins lock-picking on the rumbles of discontent with a flurry of feet, before the compilation teasingly scurries back into its bunker. Ginz’ synth-scape “Chrome” breaks the silence and drops serious weight, and Om Unit floods the sound barrier with something that can only be described as a serious, er… swooshiness, like the sound of a million window cleaners scraping in time. Illum Sphere, Kevin McPhee and Monky don’t so much break the mould as shapeshift, through deep 4×4 sounds and a jungle-twisting sneak attack from the latter, that still treat the Tectonic riddles as strictly confidential. Steeped in suspense, the third platter is nothing short of 100% quality.
File under: Author, 2562, Jack Sparrow