When Greg Sanders' contribution to the vaunted Dubstep Allstars series begins with his own "Mind Control"—snaking wobbles, searing guitar riffs, ominous speech samples—I'm forced to ask myself if it's suddenly 2007 again. After two volumes mixed by Appleblim and Ramadanman that featured techno and garage influences as prominently as the wobbly stuff, the eighth in Tempa's legendary canon is a return to purely halfstep form.
It's kind of shocking that genre pioneer Distance hasn't had one of these mixes to his name yet, and it feels long overdue, but it also can't help but feel like a step slightly backwards. Nonetheless, over half of Dubstep Allstars Vol. 8 is made up of Distance originals—all unreleased, and all showing that the Island-signed producer's newest work might actually be his best—and they're arguably the finest moments, from the aforementioned opener to the jackhammer bassweight of "Troubles" to the electrified barbed-wire basslines of his Pinch collaboration project Deleted Scenes.
Sanders also shares the spotlight with his proteges and peers, some of whom are almost on par with the dubstep legend and some who feel more like followers than trailblazers. His Chestplate label crew is well-represented: Cyrus' synthy wiggler "Looking Back," Tunnidge's incredible remix of Truth's "Puppets" or District's "3.5 Grams," are all non-Sanders strong points. But there are lesser contributions from V.I.V.E.K, J:Kenzo and Benton that don't add much of anything to the flow or development of the mix. Coupled with the inevitable homogeneity of having so many Distance tracks included in the mix, the disc can begin to wear out its welcome well before it reaches the end of its seemingly marathon runtime. Sanders' mixing is proficient, but it lacks the energy or flair of other DJs who stick to foundational dubstep ideas (think Youngsta or Mala).
The result is a dingy and dimly-lit set full of darkened corners and lurking dread with absolutely zero respite from its slovenly momentum or bleak outlook. That might work well on the pitch black dance floor at Plastic People, but as a mix you're likely to hear on your home stereo or headphones, it's a slog, and despite the strength of Distance's productions, this is nothing you haven't heard before. If you're looking for groundbreaking developments in dubstep (the kind that Appleblim's Volume 6 had in spades), you might have to wait for Volume 9.
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Tracklist: Distance - Dubstep Allstars Vol. 8 01. Distance - Mind Control
02. Commodo - Surveillance
03. Cyrus - Soul Seeker
04. Distance - Devastator
05. LX ONE vs SP:MC - Untitled
06. J:Kenzo - The Roteks
07. The Others - Titania
08. District - 3.5 Grams
09. Tunnidge vs Distance - Blame
10. Distance - Knowing
11. Cyrus - Looking Back
12. Tunnidge - AfterShock
13. Distance - Troubles
14. V.I.V.E.K - Out of Reach
15. Kryptic Minds - Transcendent
16. Distance - Reboot
17. Benton - 20/20
18. Deleted Scenes - Ultimate Moment
19. Distance - Mean Streak
20. Benga - Chemical Compound
21. Distance - Drawn
22. Distance - Bazurk
23. Tunnidge - 7 Breaths (Distance Remix)
24. Above & Beyond - Sun & Moon (Distance Remix)
25. Truth - Puppets (Tunnidge Remix)