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V/A - Tectonic Plates, Vol. 2

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Artist: V/A

Album: Tectonic Plates, Vol. 2

Label: Tectonic

Review date: Jun. 12, 2009


Martyn - "Yet" (Tectonic Plates, Vol. 2)


Collecting the 12" Plates series in its entirety, this compilation from Bristolís Tectonic label makes a surprisingly reasonable case for dubstepís continued relevance. Itís been a bit hard recently to keep up with the genreís output, especially if one includes the many fringe artists who donít necessarily walk the walk, so to speak.

Tectonic brings in some pretty big guns Ė Benga, Martyn, 2562 Ė and while the comp doesnít reach the heights of, say, 2008ís 10 Tons Heavy, itís certainly one of the better opportunities to check out the current scene. All-instrumental, the tracks include both the heavy and the spacey sides of dubstep, but all of it sounds fresh.

The material on Vol. 2 runs the gamut from fast electro to bouncing trance to slow, dark dub. The rhythms here are mostly mid-tempo or less, though label owner Pinch closes the comp with a surprising Latin-flavored track filled with fast, bubbling percussion. The occasional spaced-out, lighter pieces feel a bit out of place amidst the distressed electronics and heavy bass push, but you could argue that they serve to clear the air. Flying Lotusí oddly-named "Glendale Galleria" feels like a soft prelude coming just before Jokerís slowed-down and worn-out synths, while Pinch & Moving Ninja handle the dichotomy all by themselves. After an atmospheric first movement, "False Flag" kicks in a hard rhythmic pulse that carries it the rest of the way.

The variety and strength of the songs here shows there is still life in dubstep, although the variety itself demonstrates the futility of labeling the music. Everyone loves to decry genrefication, while at the same time admitting that it can be useful. Dubstep has become a brand, which isnít necessarily a bad thing. The artists just have to avoid building their own wall so high that they canít escape. So far, so good.

Note: The compilation also includes a second disc with a Pinch DJ mix and unreleased tracks from the labelís roster, with artists like MRK1, Distance and more.

By Mason Jones

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