Various Artists - Round Black Ghosts

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  • Dubstep took root in Berlin a long time ago. Both Dense and Hardwax record stores were early adopters, and the city’s best-known promoters and purveyors of the genre, the Freakcamp Crew, have been holding regular parties in the city since early 2005. Yet this compilation arrives on a less likely outlet: ~scape, a label more associated with dubby and static-y electronics than bass drops and triplets. It’s a move which signals a widening of the circle for dubstep in the city, and one that’s not as unlikely as it first might seem: label boss Stefan Betke enlisted Shackleton and Peverelist for the remixes of his Steingarten album last year, and Round Black Ghosts takes a crossover dubstep-techno tack which sits nicely within ~scape’s four-four dub underpinnings and experimentalism. Pole, who compiled this collection together with Tim Tetzner from Berlin record store Dense and Barbara Preisinger, slips a new track of his own onto the compilation. ‘Alles Klar’ is by no means anything that could be called dubstep: it’s quite loungy, and a far cry from the ten-tonne bass assaults normally associated with the genre, but the loose percussion and dubby atmosphere make a good counterpoint to the rest of the compilation. The other tracks, all previously released, have been expertly selected from labels-of-the-moment such as Hessle Audio, Tectonic, Punch Drunk et al, and it adds to up to an intriguing snapshot of where dubstep is at in 2008. Album opener, ‘Velvet’ (3024) from Martyn is lush and Detroit-esque, 2562’s standout debut ‘Channel Two’, is a fusion of Maurizio style dub-Detroitism, house swing and stuttering beats that conjures a heavier Luomo. Punch Drunk is represented by two releases, Pinch’s most upfront four-four track to date, ‘136 Trek’, and Peverelist’s fantastically atmospheric, techno-templated ‘The Grind’. ‘Beyond The Stars - SD mix’ (SD Records) is the exception. Syncom Data, two Dutchmen known for their experimental techno live performances rather than dubstep productions, are part of the Clone family and had early releases on The Hague’s Bunker Records. As such, ‘Beyond the Stars - SD mix’ is an odd but successful mix of crawling drums and live melodica—a nice curveball inclusion that broadens the scope of the compilation. Round Black Ghosts is not only an outlet for Pole’s new passion, it also functions well as a snapshot of recent developments in dubstep—more overt gestures toward techno danceability and house grooves—as well the common ground between dub techno and dubstep. Very accessible and packed with good stuff, anyone interested in left-of-centre perspective on Detroit-orientated dub mutations would do well to pick up this compilation.
  • Tracklist
      01 Martyn - Velvet 02 2562 - Channel Two 03 Untold - Test Signal 04 Pole - Alles Klar 05 Syncom Data - Beyond the Stars (SD Mix) 06 Ramadanman - Response 07 Pinch - 136 Trek 08 Peverelist - The Grind 09 Elemental - Raw Material 10 Pangaea - Coiled