The Dubstep Allstars series on Tempa has been in operation since 2004 and, whether by design or not, has always offered a weather vane for the clubbier side of the genre. Volume 6 doesn’t break this template, but in Appleblim’s hands it widens the parameters of past installments to focus in on a new generation of dubsteppers. While past mixes read like a love-in for those close to the label, with acts like Skream, Loefah, Benga, Coki and Digital Mystikz all figuring heavily, the 18 tracks here focus a spotlight on producers whose tracks are pushing the genre outside of the typical dub/dancehall/two-step cornerstones.
Appleblim himself is one such producer. Like Shackleton, with whom he’s split most of his vinyl to date, he opts for more complex beat structures, stringing together industrialized and atmospheric tracks that recall the early experiments in Euro-phile digital dub undertaken by the On-U Sound label, early Meat Beat Manifesto, and others. Given this more rigorous and experimental approach to dubstep, it’s no surprise that Appleblim draws on producers such as Peverelist, Martyn, and 2562, all of whom are playing with versions of the genre that are more palatable to outside influence. It’s a nice direction for a series that was beginning to grow predictable in its tastes after five installments.
Peverelist gets things started in a slow and hazy fashion with two Pole-tinted tracks: 'Gather' and the more muscular 'Circling', the latter a Skull Disco collaboration with Appleblim from earlier this year. From there, the mix perks up significantly with Pinch’s 'Get Up', a highlight from last year’s Underwater Dancehall. Of all the producers featured, The Hague’s 2562 borrows the most tricks from minimal techno.
On their own, his tracks sound as if he’s yet to hone in on a distinct personality, but in the middle of this mix he holds up admirably as a clean and compulsive way to transition away from hazy dub and dancehall toward more brittle breakbeats. This is where Martyn comes in, the only producer here whose linear, garage-tagged tracks work well on both sides of the mix: early on with 'Suburbia', and then again near the end with his remix of TRG’s 'Broken Heart'.
That tail end, taken up significantly by Komonazmuk and TRG, is where Appleblim makes the mix’s allegiance to techno most obvious. Tellingly, this is also where the delicate hold on the dubstep foundation otherwise maintained through the rest of the mix begins to slip. Dubstep and techno hybrids are all the rage at the moment, with great tracks coming out on both sides, but unfortunately the two Komonazmik examples Appleblim mixes in here (the ravey 'Bad Apple' and the similarly retro 'Cheeky Herbert') lead the set into its least compelling and shallow-sounding section. Luckily, the mix comes back strong, finishing with Geiom’s catchy bassbin stomper 'Reminissin'.
Above all, Dubtsep Allstars Volume 6 reveals that Appleblim is a DJ more interested in evolutions within the genre than playing to its biggest hitters. He insists on taking the listener on a deep and varied excursion, and he’s not afraid of slowing things down or speeding them up to get the results he wants. It’s worth listening to this mix alongside his recent RA podcast, which takes the journeyman’s mentality in an entirely different direction. Between the two mixes, Appleblim has showcased, if anything, just how versatile dubstep has become in absorbing the music that surrounds it.
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Tracklist: Appleblim - Dubstep Allstars: Vol. 0601. Peverelist - Gather
02. Peverelist & Appleblim - Circling
03. Pinch feat. Yolanda - Get Up
04. 2562 - Moog Dub
05. Martyn - Suburbia
06. Jus Wan - Action Potential
07. 2562 - Morvern Dub
08. TRG & Selector Dub U - Harajuku
09. Peverelist - Infinity Is Now
10. Skream - Percression
11. RSD - Pretty Bright Light
12. Mungo's Hi Fi - Babylon
13. Komonazmuk - Bad Apple
14. Komonazmuk & Gatekeeper - Cheeky Herbert
15. TRG - Decisions
16. TRG - Put U Down - Ramadanman Remix
17. TRG - Broken Hearts - Martyn Remix
18. Geiom feat. Marita - Reminissin' - Dubplate Version (Berkane Sol / Dub)
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