Dubstep Allstars Vol. 10 (Mixed by Plastician) [REVIEW]

January 28, 2013 -

Ryan Farber

Brace yourselves, for Tempa has released another one of it's infamous Dubstep Allstars compilations with Plastician behind the decks.  If you really want to catch a glimpse of the true dubstep movement and its evolution, I implore you to listen to the Dubstep Allstars series.  Before we get into the review, I'll start off with a brief history of the Dubstep Allstars Series.

Tempa is one of the original Dubstep labels that catered to the new bass-driven sound coming out of South London in 2000.  Four years later, Tempa released their first Dubstep Allstars, mixed by Hatcha, who was one of the pioneer DJ's "rinsing" the music.  The OG players included Hatcha, El-B, Horsepower Productions, Skream, Benga, and Plastician, who all provided productions which fueled the rise of this underground music scene.  Since then, every year or so, a new Dubstep Allstars mix arises, each from a leading producer/DJ.  Past mixes were done by Youngsta, Kode9 & Spaceape, N-Type, Appleblim, and more.  My all-time favorites were Vol. 7, mixed by Chef & Ramadanman, and Vol. 8 mixed by Distance.

I'm just gonna go off on a quick tangent about how awesome Vol. 7 and 8 were.  Vol. 7 was actually the first Dubstep Allstars I ever listened to, and it permanently solidified my obsession with the music.  There were 2 disks, each one had mixes from Chef and Ramadanman, respectively.  Chef's dubplate mix weaved in and out of 2-step bangers and deeper darker tracks, with bold transitions I've never heard any DJ do before.  His mix was a compulsively organic blend of A-list tracks and VIP specials, remixed exclusively for Chef.  From Skream, Benga, Von D, Kito, Silkie, Distance, it was all there, everything you have ever wanted to hear out of Dubstep.  Then enter Ramadanman's mix, an arcane journey that takes you from the sublime to the funky through deep, progressive, Jungl-y, and House-y dub tracks.  His mixing is seamless and his music choices are brilliant, and beyond me.  Featuring tracks from some of the artists on his own label (Hessel Audio), Ramadanman showcases Pangea and Untold along with Peverlist, Blawan, and even James Blake.

Then we have Distance's mix on Vol. 8.  A uniformly themed compilation of the darkest, grungiest dubstep.  This heavy metal breed of Dubstep flows from artists like Distance, Tunnidge, and Kryptic Minds. It's almost as if these producers took distorted electric guitars, made them more distorted, and then oscillated them to form dubstep wobbles.  It's awesome.

Bear in mind that you will not find (at least not yet) Jump-Up style productions within the Dubstep Allstar mixes.  Sorry kids.  No Skrillex (although one of his label's artists is featured on Vol. 10), no Datsik (<3 Datsik), no Porter Robinson, no Document One, no Zomboy, no Borgore, etc.  Not to say I don't enjoy these artist's work, because a lot of it is brilliant.  However, these mixes stay devoted to the roots of Dubstep, while trying to usher in contemporary elements as well.  A lot of main-stream Jump-Up productions are geared towards function rather than form.  The idea here is not to supply a room full of  aggressive rave monkeys with high pitched, adrenaline-laced head bangers.  Instead, Dubstep Allstars seeks to convey the proper form of the music and its nuances in its extremely diverse variety.

But there are head bangers too.

Plastician takes the reigns on Dubstep Allstars Vol. 10.  I had the pleasure of seeing him spin at Cable (one of my favorite clubs ever) in London, and I even got to talk with him briefly after his set.  He is a super nice guy, and he occasionally reply's to my tweets, which makes me as giddy as a school boy.  One of my favorites was when I asked him how he stays focused in the studio.  He tweeted back saying, "Tea".  I was like, yup; and then drank some tea and pretended I was making epic tracks like him.

Anyways, Chris Reed a.k.a. Plastician is one of the original Croydon (where Dubstep originated in South London) producers, stepping in the ranks with Skream and Benga.  He has been integral in fusing Dubstep with Grime, and has worked with names like Wiley, Skepta, and JME.  One of my favorite Dubstep tracks ever is off his first release "Beg to Differ".  The track in mind, Intensive Snare, features a certain Skepta spitting some instigating grime flows with an anthem-like hook on top of an enveloping sub-bass line.  In 2006, he had a residency on BBC's Radio 1, and currently holds a weekly show on Rinse FM.  Plastician has reached a ubiquitous popularity in the Dubstep scene, but still keeps it real with his innovative tracks and loose production style.  His last official mix was Rinse 06  release back in 2008 where he debuted a track by Jakes & Joker that made my head spin.

 

Plastician - Intensive Snare

 

Now in 2013, he brings 21 massive tracks to the table.  Plastician's idea for this mix was to have a contemporary take on the traditional idea of Dubstep songs.  I briefly glimpsed at the tracklist and I saw 3 songs from J:Kenzo's self-title debut album, and I was like "fuck yea."  This mix is full of huge bangers that I could only picture listening to with my head shoved inside the colossal bass bins at Cable (Vicious Circle's "Not Afraid" is a testament to that).  Plastician also briefly takes the mix in a more rapturous and meditative state with songs like "Valentine Dreams" by Mutated Mindz.

Plastician leads it off with a VIP mix of Cato and Doctor's "Brap", a dubbier tune which has a swagger reminiscent of Rusko's "Jahova".  He soon after feeds it into a track by Tempa's newly signed artist, Nomine.  His track "Waves" comes in strong with shuffling percussion that jukes around a growling bass line.  Plastician than takes it down in frequency into the darker realm of warping bass lines with tracks like "Blind Run" by JayDrop and "Contagion" by J:Kenzo.  Fast FWD>> (pun intended) a bit and we get into the incessant wobbles of Kumarachi's "Voyager".  That track.  Phew.  Let me tell you.  It's simple, yet effective.  It features a ghastly bassline which is layered with some obscure African-like percussion that sounds like a drumming circle from Ghana that turned Dubstep.  It almost has the same vibe as Distance's "Mind Control" (Which was featured on Vol. 8) with a similar dark feel and interesting percussive elements.

 

Kumarachi - Voyager


Following that, Plastician brings back an essence of Grime with Pote's Smash N Grab Remix of Merky Ace's "Greaze".  Speaking of Greazy, Plastician did another massive track with Merky called Destruction Derby that was dropped back in November on UK's Kiss FM that also features Discarda, P Money and Blacks.  Next up we jump into the absolute madness of Megalodon & Badklaat's "Twisted Metal".  The track is so dank, especially the second drop.  It's definitely a reload worthy tune.

 

Merky Ace - Greaze (Pote's Smash N Grab Remix)

 

Megalodon & Badklaat - Twisted Metal

 

After some more dankness by J:Kenzo, Plastician brilliantly segues into a deeper sentimental mood with Moony's sultry vocal ballad "Close Enough".  This epic track features a hypnotizing Indian Tabla tapping away in the background on top of flowing synth lines.  The track then dissolves seamlessly into the airy synth lines of Mutated Mind's "Valentine Dreams".  This track is just... beautiful.  It has a filtered (guitar?) riff that just melts your soul.  You then begin to hear subtle and delicate piano notes puncturing the atmosphere of the euphoric utopian world you have just been transported into, but realize it is Stinkahbell's "Sunday Worries".  The piano keeps you lingering for a while until the bass line drops, and you are right back in the club with with lasers in your eyes, and bass in your chest.

 

Mooney - Close Enough

 

Mutated Mindz & Meaden - Valentine Dreams

 

Stinkahbell - Sunday Worries

 

Plastician finishes out the mix with some more warping bassline from Dream's "Desolate", another Grime style track from J:Kenzo & Footsie, "No Man's Land"; Korea's entrancing "Submarine"; and into the one Plastician track we all know and love, Alone Time.  When I was in London I went to an event called Licked Beatz (#6) at Cable, which was the first time I saw Plastician live.  I don't remember much from that fateful night, but I do remember him dropping that song.  It was a wrap.  The soothing melodies in the beginning of the song build up and give way to a drop engulfed in a pure sine wave bass wobble goodness.  It's dope to say the least.  He then adds on one more Garage style track called "Sorga" by Swedish producer Teknian.  A super-shuffly beat, eerie atmospheric pads, distorted cut vocals drenched in reverb, and the gentle sound of rain falling in a bustling city street is the the name of the game.  Indeed, it was a tasteful way to end such a masterful mix only Plastician could assemble.

 

Plastician - Alone Time

 

Teknian - Sorga

 

To sum things up, Dubstep Allstars Vol. 10 is an exciting, diverse, energetic and balanced mix that forays into a extensive portion of the Dubstep music spectrum, and is sure to keep you on edge.  Plastician elaborates on his take on the mix:

“The word dubstep means different things now, so I just wanted to do a mix that I can say 100% I think that all these tracks are dubstep, or not far from it. It’s as close to a pure dubstep mix as I could be, without doing an old school mix. So it’s trying to keep it fresh, with all current stuff, but with an old head on my shoulders.”

I couldn't say it better myself.  The seasoned veteran of Dubstep music--Plastician surely deserves the recognition for his continuos involvement in the music's evolution.  Check out some of his other music, and be sure to tune into his show Wednesdays (21:00-23:00 GMT, 4:00pm-6:00pm EST) on Rinse FM. If this is your first time listening to Dubstep Allstars, I encourage you to listen to the whole series.  It will definitely open your eyes to a whole new world of Dubstep music.  I know I'll have this one on repeat for a good while!

You can buy and download Dubstep Allstars Vol. 10 from Amazon here ($8.99).  You can also buy a hard copy from the Rinse FM store here (£7.99).

Plastician | Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter

-Ryan F.

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