Sunday, 1 August 2010

V/A – Dark Matter: Multiverse 2004-2009 [Tectonic]

You may know Multiverse without even knowing it, they’re an umbrella organisation and studio in Bristol that has helped many artists and labels get their music out there. The network of labels alone is pretty special, with: Pinch’s Tectonic that’s been rolling deep at the forefront of dubstep since day one and it’s diverse sister label Earwax, Joker’s Kapsize with its purple hyper-funk, October’s techno offshoot Caravan and Baobinga’s rough house imprint Build all on the roster. As you can imagine a lot of ground is covered on this Dark Matter retrospective.

Storming out of the blocks comes Vex’d with their tough, breaky style. Ravey bass pulses with a ton of energy and dub accents. It’s an early highlight. October shows an early dubstep production off by remixing Circuit Breakers, if you ever caught that Immerse 12” last year where he really goes in with two grimy hard hitting raw slabs of it you’ll know what to expect here. Later on the compilation you’ll catch more of his techno-oriented stuff he’s doing at present… You’ll be in for a treat. Pinch makes his first appearance with a weighty number in collaboration with P Dutty, its full of space, bass and a pent up aggression. Skream turns in a big dubby production with some serious bass weight. But its Joker’s ‘Stuck in the System’ that really grabs you, the grimy favourite twists computer game strings and a dirty south aesthetic into a twisted synth workout, it’s a real peak. He smooths out that style on his collaboration with Ginz on ‘Purple City’ here too, with real sing along synths. A personal favourite of mine ‘Techno Dread’ by 2562 still hits hard, with its relentless bass line and skippy, addictive drum patterns. Bristol legend RSD offers up his sublime remix of Pinch and Yolanda’s ‘Get Up’, the smooth vocals ride his dubbed out basslines perfectly, it’s a track that keeps rolling with a joyful soulful vibe. The first CD ends on the tough broken house of Baobinga & ID which really pops and swings.

The second disc really takes off with Vex’d dropping ‘Pop pop’ a heavy skippy number. Loefah & Skream come together on the fantastic ’28 Grams’, which has a weightlessness to it, the wobbly bassline ricochets off into orbit while a solid slab of sub keeps it tethered to the ground. Cyrus follows that up with the sublime ‘Indian Stomp’ with, as you’d expect Indian samples and killer percussion that rolls and bumps hard, its one of the highlights of the compilation for me. If that wasn’t enough already Pinch comes and drops ‘Qawwali / Brighter Day’ which is just pure bliss. Its got that deep meditative vibe about it that’s so addictive and appealing about early dubstep. The bassline drones and pulses with a weighty pressure that draws you in deep as the drums, pads and melodies get your head nodding. Loefah turns up on his own this time with the spacious and powerful ‘System’. ‘Uranium’ by Moving Ninja shows off similar space but with added atmosphere, they really know how to build it from raw field recordings and synth pads. October is back and in techno mode, tough four to the floor kicks and microscopic samples get cut into bumpy shapes all over the place on the addictive ‘Three Drops’, which drops into as the name suggests a three drop synth loop that really gets things moving, and when it melts into wide screen synths its something else. He pulls off another highlight with ‘Euro Dance Hit’ which comes on like a lost Daniel Bell production fighting its way through a crowded room, its all space and tension. A killer 2562 track from his last album ‘Unbalance’, which is full of colour and presence gets book-ended by two impressive productions from Emptyset to finish off the compilation, the dub techno duo really bring it with the heavy ‘Gate 4’ which sounds like it could flatten a house and the more laid back ‘Demian’ which is so smooth and full of vibes its unreal.

The music speaks for its self really, a diverse bunch. Many of the tracks sound as fresh as when they first dropped. It’s a retrospective you can really get involved with and a good jumping off point for exploring the artists and labels involved. The Multiverse really shows what presence it’s had in the scene with this compilation; it runs deep to the roots of the genre and all its factions as well as showing how important it is to the city it occupies.

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