Monday, May 6, 2013

Complation Spotlight: Plates Vol. 4

As I've come to listen to electronic music more and more over the past several months, one thing I've come to understand is this: "serious" dubstep hasn't evolved all that much since 2006. Around the time Skream! hit shelves, producers glommed on to the new sound of massive snares and chest-rattling sub-bass and stopped producing all that much new stuff. Sure, it's fun to listen to labels like Tempa and Black Box come out with well-working and well-produced dubstep tunes every month or so, but it's a little unfulfilling to have that as the be-all end-all, without much room for innovation. And sure, you have the occasional Burial or "Over My Head" by V.I.V.E.K, but there's really not been all that much by way of pushing boundaries.

I suppose that when you get right down to it, Tectonic Recordings' new compilation Plates Vol. 4 changes the game a lot. But, what's nice about it is that it does indeed nudge slightly at the solid boundaries around the definition of dubstep, whether it be with beat patterns that aren't totally straight or with grimy breaks. The big claps and dirty breakbeat rhythms of "Drum Boss" by Mumdance & Logos are a good starting point for where this LP goes. It's floorshaking like most of the stuff out there, sure, but what's interesting is the way it goes about it - constant claps and hi-hat taps are the name of the game, with a surprisingly monotonous bassline that complements the meat of the song quite nicely. The stuttered beats of Distal's "Kerplunk" and car horns and clean guitar sounds of Pursuit Grooves' garage-y "Hard Beginnings" also illustrate the concept well - it's difficult to imagine the tunes at home on a "proper" label like Tempa. Kryptic Minds also makes an appearance, showcasing the duo's immense prowess with one of the more "standard bangers," though the tripping beat and repetitive tom sounds show that the piece isn't your normal club tune. In the end, Plates Vol. 4 shouldn't change the game. However, it should most definitely make some listeners shift uncomfortably, and that's a good thing.

The LP will be out on all good digital stores May 13.

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