DUBSTEP ALLSTARS VOL.8 MIXED BY DISTANCE
Dub•step \ dub-step \ n + tech•no \tek-nõ\ n
Originally published in Time Out Chicago Magazine: TOC | Dubstep Allstars
Before electrostep man-of-the-moment Skrillex had even heard the term dubstep, the U.K.’s Tempa was laying the foundation for a dance-music revolution. Operating since ’99, the label introduced the world to Horsepower Productions and Digital Mystikz, two acts that are among the genre’s first. And it was largely through its Dubstep Allstars DJ-mix series that these sounds made it out of the tiny East London clubs where they were being played, often on anonymous vinyl white labels.
More than ten years later this is still the case. In that time, dubstep has turned into an international electronic music movement, and all the while, the label—and the series—has remained true to its roots.
As well as any selector before him, Distance, the DJ and producer whose 25 selections make up this eighth volume, has captured the spaced-out breaks, deep bass wobble and dark atmospherics that characterize the Tempa sound. His entire mix is sparse, haunting, swelling with low end and reverberating with hints of a Jamaican heritage that has gone through decades of U.K. dance permutations.
Dominated by his own productions, like the grinding “Mean Streak” and buzz-saw mayhem of “Drawn,” his set also showcases current scene stealers—and frequent collaborators—Tunnidge, whose “AfterShock” is a surefire brain rattler, and veteran Benga, who proves that even while gaining popular momentum with Magnetic Man, he can still crush subwoofers with cuts like “Chemical Compound.”
Hand-crafted and expertly mixed, this is an intimate glimpse into the original dubstep scene as it stands today, unencumbered by any hype machine. My only complaint is that the sounds on display here haven’t progressed too far sonically from those thrilling early days.
—Joshua P. Ferguson
—Joshua P. Ferguson