|Album Rating: B|
Plastician's latest release, Start Select Reset, is a return to form of sorts - he's releasing "pure" grime off of a "pure" label, and there's been no major change in sound on the EP. While this means it can't be truly innovational, Start Select Reset still manages to push the boundaries of dubstep just a bit, exactly like Plastician has been able to do in the past. It's unfortunate, then, that the EP gets off to a slow start. "Bad Like Us" is a bit too straightforward, with a driving, ravey synth lead thrown over a very standard breakbeat pattern. Doctor's rapping shoots a bit of life into the song, but it's too little to really make the tune stand out. Reed follows up with "Retro," which is essentially a minor rework of "Bad Like Us," with the same synth lines but a more interesting beat and no rap. It's frustrating that "Retro" is more of a modulation than a standalone track, because while it would have been a very strong opener with its deceptive drums and ravey feel, it just feels grating after a full four and a half minutes of a song that's only slightly different.
Thankfully, Plastician saves the EP with tracks three through five. His take on more standard dubstep really serves the feel of Start Select Reset well, and those three songs demonstrate what's made him so famous over the course of his career. Plastician's drums are techy and syncopated, and his strict attention to detail is clear from the grimy snares to the ticks of the high hat. He also uses repetition to a startlingly effective degree, and manages to keep each song sounding fresh through the repeated use of nastily insistent synths. Well-placed strings lead into a twisted bassline over a twitchy beat on "Senate," one of the standout songs on the EP. It's four-bar repeated synth is changed up a bit throughout the song, and it stays interesting even with such a limited use of melody. "Elixir" sets up metallic drums with a grimy lead, and the uncomfortable bassline really fits the atmosphere of the song. "Pwned" has an almost trap-like boom-clap pattern with an almost 8-bit melody on top, and the paranoid themes of the song continue the discomfort on "Elixir" to its logical conclusion.
Regrettably, Reed takes a slight turn for the worse on the EP closer. The instrumental version of "Rebel Music" sounds like a mediocre new-school Dub Police-styled offering: melodic, nasally synths, straight dubstep beat and twinkly, twangy pads. It's not a terrible song, but its mediocrity is not helped by some very poppy vocals by Doctor (making a return appearance). The song as a whole sounds like a song you might hear on pop radio that's been twisted out of shape by Plastician, and while that's not a bad thing, it doesn't really fit in with the rest of the EP and is a poor choice as a closing track. On the whole, though, Start Select Reset, especially the three tracks in the middle, is a prime example of Plastician's sound and continues his solid slew of releases. It'll be interesting to see where Reed ends up taking his sound in the future, but for now this EP is a solid reimagining of the sounds of his past.
1. Bad Like Us (ft. Doctor)
6. Rebel Music (ft. Doctor)
7. Rebel Music (Instrumental)