Since Skrillex screeched his way into earshot a couple of years ago, it can be hard to remember, in 2013, the dubstep of years gone by.
Subtle, innovative and spacious – yet gritty and grimy – productions fired the imagination, far from the over-oscillated squeals that are now synonymous with the more commercial end of the genre.
Having now reached such mainstream ubiquity, it’s fairly staggering to be reminded that this is the 10th instalment of the Tempa label’s Dubstep Allstars, a series that began way back in 2004.
This set is helmed by Plastician – previously Plasticman until Richie Hawtin’s lawyers forced a name change. He was at the crest of the initial wave of dubstep, rising from underground scene-shaper to Radio 1 resident.
But Chris Reed has always managed to retain the same deftness of touch and adept bass crafting that was first brought to wider notice when his talents were showcased on Rephlex’s Grime compilation in 2004. And this hour-long mix is testament to his continued commitment to quality and integrity.
While the introductory, self-referential Brap (Plastician VIP) puffs up its chest proudly, the track selection from there is meticulously considered.
Plastician serves up equal measures of dark, bass bin-breaking head-nodders (Jaydrop’s That’s How It Is, the growling bass and twisted voices of Nomine’s Waves) and, later, more contemplative, melodic moments. Here we find the hacked-up soul of Moony’s Close Enough, the slow electronic waltz of Valentine Dreams by Mutated Mindz, and Plastician’s own Alone Time, which gently floats and flutters before rising in intensity.
It’s this flow between light and dark, fierce and introspective that not only goes to show Reed’s mastery and knowledge of grime and its younger, unruly sibling, but also speaks volumes of the depth and breadth that exists within both genres.
Across 21 tracks, Plastician provides a deeply immersive, bass-heavy reminder that dubstep is still in rude creative health and not all about the skull-cracking drops that clutter the mainstream and drive many away from the genre.
If you want proof that dubstep still has a soul, start here.