"I still think there's a lot to experiment with, with 140, with that tempo," Mala told me a few years back in an interview for Little White Earbuds. If it feels like he's the only producer taking the sentiment to heart, it's worth listening to Electronic Explorations 001, the first physical release from Rob Booth's scene-defining podcast-cum-record label. Featuring four tracks handpicked from EE's mammoth digital compilation released this summer, this heavyweight EP isn't the platonic ideal of dubstep nor is it exactly what you'd call experimental. But its contributors do thoughtfully refine an aesthetic many have been quick to move on from.
Anonymous beatsmiths Akkord (whose mix for EE was something of a sensation) turns in the most techno-leaning cut here. But even if "Surge" comes in ten BPM short of classic dubstep, its syncopated rhythms, digital sound design and meaty low-end check off every other box. Milanese, formerly of Various Productions, uses a nearly identical sound palate on "Hershey's Back" to a very different effect, adding overdriven grime vocals and pushing up the tempo to get heads nodding. More than any of his previous Punch Drunk releases, Kahn's moodily reverberant (and tantalizingly brief) "Polar" recalls that label's early output. Likewise, Ruckspin's expansive "Belong" sounds more like Martyn than Martyn has in years. Stylistically conservative but never safe, Electronic Explorations 001 comes off as less a low-end timewarp than a glimpse into how dubstep might have moved forward.
Buy Various Artists - Electronic Explorations 001 at
Tracklist: Various Artists - Electronic Explorations 001A1 Akkord - Surge
A2 Milanese - Hershey's Back
B1 Kahn - Polar
B2 Ruckspin - Belong