21 February 2006


Ruffnek Vibes

Thanks to Appleblim, it looks like I've been put on the Ammunition mailing list, and the first fruits of this arrangement arrived in the post last week, in the form of a promo of Kode 9's astounding "Dubstep Allstars Vol.3" mix. Last year's "Vol. 2" was great, but Youngsta follows a very specific vibe that only a small handful of artists can provide. It needed to be documented, but Kode 9's offering feels like a far more generous, expansive exploration of the current state of dubstep, featuring 28 tracks from 16 different producers. It's a wild ride - the dubplates crackle, the energy levels build and subside, and the occasional evidence of 'platter pushing' only adds to a sense of of-the-moment urgency.

All the tracks are, of course, exclusive and unreleased (apart from Pressure (The Bug) & Warrior Queen's "Dem A Bomb We"), and its great to see that Kode has seen fit to include nearly all the dubplates that have caught my attention in recent months, like Digital Mystikz' "Intergalactic", one of the most insane riddims I've had the pleasure to experience, reminding me just how weird and alien those guys can get. This, followed by Loefah's "Ruffage" is just an explosive combination of jaw-dropping proportions. Skream's other big 'arpeggiator' tune "0800 dub" is also on there which, with the addition of the wise, authorative flow of 'dub poet' the Spaceape, raises the hairs on the back of my neck. Spaceape is the perfect MC for dubstep, his lyrical embellishments never obscure the sonics, if anything they add further depth and brevity to the proceedings. The brilliant D1 is also well represented, particularly with the sublime melodies of "Bamboo", plus a bit of grimey dub action from Geneeus and Plastician and some much-needed exposure for N-Type, Random Trio, DJ Krave and Benga. Good to see a bit of Blackdown in there, too (btw, thanks to Martin for linking to this interview with Kode 9 - check it).

But who the hell is Calenda?! His "Forever" features a whirlwind of dramatic strings that sound like they've been sampled from an old Wild West movie! And who is Geiom? The distressed electric piano tones of "Overnight Biscuits" conjure vague memories of 70's John Barryesque TV soundtracks, as illusive and haunted as Burial's closing number "Prayer".

With dubstep's profile and status rising dramatically this year, I imagine there's a few people wondering when the bubble's gonna burst, but on the strength of this mix alone, there's enough sonic weapons armed and ready to sustain the scene for the foreseeable future. Release date for this CD is 6th March. Make a note in your diary. It's the soundtrack to Great Britain 2006 and you'd be crazy to miss it. Buy it here.

(Bleep exclusive!)