In its first two editions, Pinch's Tectonic Plates series showed just how much potential dubstep had for expansion and experimentation. Last year's third installment uneasily balanced traditionalism and more daring fare, as if the label couldn't quite decide where it wanted to go next. Volume 4 arrives only a year later—instead of the usual three—and while it exhibits the same vacillation between the old fashioned and the new, it's coming from an altogether more confident place.
Jakes' "Rounds" lets you know you're not in for a survey of newer trends: the digital snares are like something from a 2006 Skream record. Hearing the classic-style Guido synth that comes next ("State Of Joy"), you might think Pinch was on a retro dubstep tear. But then we get two tracks from promising newcomer Decibel and Sinistarr & Texel, both of which sound like house jacked way, way up—the 138 BPM "Talk" switches between a fleet-footed gallop and heart-in-mouth bouts of freefall. Together with Mumdance & Logos' slamming Night Slugs pastiche, it's nearly enough to forget that history lesson at the beginning.
With a few exceptions, Tectonic Plates Volume 4 manages to blend dubstep and its nameless offspring into one coherent sound driven by swing and low-end largesse. It bears a comparison to Keysound's new wave of producers, but here they're united more by a nebulous—but clearly evident—stylistic thread than a single tempo. Distal's "Kerplunk" decorates dubstep with kitchen-sink flair and blasts it with blinding synths. Somehow, it sits perfectly next to Kryptic Mind's 122 BPM writher "Convoluted," itself an exciting variation on their dead-of-night sound.
The compilation's back half gathers some lesser knowns, all of whom put forth ideas that are definitely interesting, if not as distinctive as the first half. From the sensual sludge groove of Pursuit Groooves' "Hard Beginnings" to Armour's punishing "Skylark," everyone has something to say about the state of bass music. The corker is a seven-minute beast from Beneath, who drops another slow-mo stunner full of rolling hand percussion and earthquake kicks. The crown jewel of Keysound's roster and an equally important part of the ever-morphing Tectonic family, Beneath's contribution ends the compilation on a high note—one that says that dubstep can still be every bit as exciting as it was back when the first Tectonic Plates rolled around.
Buy Various - Tectonic Plates Volume 4 at
Tracklist: Various - Tectonic Plates Volume 401. Jakes - Rounds
02. Guido - State Of Joy
03. Sinistarr & Texel - Decibell
04. Decibel - Talk
05. Mumdance & Logos - Drum Boss
06. Distal - Kerplunk
07. Kryptic Minds - Convoluted
08. Steve Digital - Larry Shite On The Night
09. Armour - Skylark
10. Pursuit Grooves - Hard Beginnings
11. Acre - DXTR
12. Beneath Flight