Following the first volume of techno-dubstep crossover from the ~scape label, this second volume doesnít make any particular moves sideways from its predecessor. In fact, with almost half of the artists represented reappearing from the first compilation, this is really more of a second part than anything else. One might think that a yearís interval would allow for more fresh blood.
As an exploration linking the dub-influenced techno that the labelís known for with the newer (and heavily hyped) dubstep, these 11 tracks are intriguing. The heavier end of dubstep isnít much featured here, nor is the darker atmospheric feel of many of the genreís artists. While the dubstep label has been applied to a dizzyingly wide variety of artists, the most distinctive of them bring a dirtier, more organic feel, and a mood that approaches threatening. Poster-boy Burial, along with Distance and 2562 (who was featured on the first volume of "Ghosts"), isnít what one would call heavy, but brings an atmosphere worthy of being called industrial. Theirs is the sound of a 21st century landscape, filled with decaying factories and polluted creeks. On the much heavier side, Vexíd, Milanese, Boxcutter and others take that atmosphere and add a more emotional edge, with punishing beats and distorted, angry sounds.
Most of the artists on Round Black Ghosts 2 eschew the heaviness and emotions in favor of the crisp and clinical. Rather than an industrial landscape, these songs call up visions of dancefloors and neon lights. For the most part, the songs are skeletal, primarily rhythm with occasional ornamentation. Label owner Poleís contribution, ďAlles Gute,Ē is the extreme case in point, a framework of sparse beats with perfectly placed synth pads and rubbery samples. Ramandanmanís "Blimey" is a good rhythmic track, though itís nothing but percussion, rather like an early Muslimgauze piece. Untold offers up one of the heavier and more exciting pieces, with spacey synths and a bass-heavy thump. Surprisingly, the collaboration between dubstep pioneer Kode9 and Badawi is little more than a relatively pedestrian techno beat, albeit with some enjoyable percussion breaks.
This compilationís got some solid tracks, but theyíre strongly on the shiny dub techno side of the fence. Itís likely to be popular with electronic music fans who havenít found dubstep to their taste. Those who are dubstep fans, however, may find things here to be shorn of the menace and organic feel that gives the genre its particular frisson.