Granted, the advantage of a hive is multiple entry points, and one reason Dark Matter is so sharp is how porous its ideas are. Even if the artists aren't always getting together in the same room, they're bouncing ideas off one another, and that kind of interaction is central to this collection. The tracks favor hard, no-fucking-around bass lines without a blink—the dub pressure of Pinch's 2006 crusher "Qawwali" remains a high bar for new jacks to match—but there's room for all kinds of perspectives. We get laddish wobble on Body Snatchers' "Big Ass Miniskirt" (also nodding to Detroit bass, among other "ghetto" styles) and woozy atmospherics on Joker's "Psychedelic Runway." October's "Euro Dance Hit" is lazy and glitchy, art-techno technique transferred to bass-scaping; 2562's "Techno Dread" captures its own feel perfectly with its title, liquid on the bottom and on top. The low end of Pinch & P Dutty's slow-mo bomb "War Dub" utilizes every square on the board, in its own sweet time and way, while Emptyset's "Gate 4" goes so low it sounds like it's kicking up dirt.
There's a lot to dig into here. Dark Matter is a summation, with emphasis on the "a." Keeping up with dubstep's many strands is a full-time job at the moment, but it's good to have a reminder of what a solid core there is to something with so many tentacles reaching in so many directions. It's an unapologetically arty compilation that never once leaves the body, like a Generation YouTube version of Platinum Breakz.