- Worth the Weight: Bristol Dubstep Classics may be a Punch Drunk release, but rather than a retrospective of the imprint, Tom Ford, AKA PD label boss Peverelist, has set his sights on the entire Bristol dubstep scene. Comparisons to the recently released Bristol-spanning Multiverse compilation are unavoidable, but where Dark Matter sprawled beyond dubstep, Ford's selection hones in on the very core of what drives the bass-wise meditations of Bristolians and is all the better for it. The compilation is split between one disc of deadly serious monochrome monoliths and another disc exploring the recent melodic and even psychedelic tangents of Bristol dubstep. But the variety on even the first disc's more one-dimensional vibe is tremendous, and Peverelist's sequencing is impeccable. It's not easy to get people excited about tracks that are four and five years old.
But excite he does: the compilation's opening sequence is a relentless assault on whatever structures dare stand in the face of its low-end volleys. The complex percussion programming and spacey atmospherics of tracks like his own "The Grind" and Gatekeeper's "Tense Past" gently roll into each other, culminating with the rousing hymnal of Pinch's "Qawwali." It is the sort of curatorial wizardry that has come to be expected of the fearless experimental label head: Peverelist assimilates a series of entirely insular and singular beats and make them sound as if they belong together. It doubles also a history lesson: alongside established canon classics are lower-profile tracks from Headhunter (the hammer-and-anvil percussion of his very first release, "7th Curse"), Forsaken (whose 2007 "Hypnotised" track predicts the future garage movement two years before its inception) and techno-obsessed Peverelist collaborator Appleblim.
The second disc's vibrant fireworks stand in opposition to the first's subterranean tremors, painting a portrait of a city that's as brilliantly diverse as it is miles deep. In many ways it's even more impressive than the first, a vision stretched across too many styles and influences to be encompassed here. It begins with the proto-dubstep of Smith & Mighty's shuffling "B Line Fi Blo" and travels through Dubboy & Atki2's tropical nightmare "Tigerflower," the drippy histrionics of Hyetal & Shortstuff's "Ice Cream" and the stately regality of Guido's "Orchestral Lab." The latter producer becomes the unexpected star of Worth the Weight, with the ferocious sex-jazz of "Mad Sax" and his alternately jagged and pillowy remix of Wedge and Shadz' "Running Away" showcasing his diverse palette. His purple compatriots are also well represented with the electro-grime of Joker's "Holly Brook Park" and Gemmy's sinewy "Bass Transmitter." The compilation ends with an inspiring morsel of futurism in the form of Hyetal's bitcrushed-R&B weeper "Pixel Rainbow Sequence."
Worth the Weight is near-perfect: which tracks should be sacrificed at the expense of others not included is an arduous mental exercise not worth undertaking. Ford does a fine job of highlighting Bristol's stylistic expanse, from Jakes to Guido to RSD to Pinch, though some are obviously more represented than others. That's what happens when you have a compilation curated by a single person. Considering his status as a key record shop owner and esteemed label boss, though, there are few people in Bristol in a better position to tell us what's a classic and what isn't.
01. Pinch - Midnight Oil
02. Peverelist - The Grind
03. Gatekeeper - Tense Past
04. Peverelist - Roll with the Punches
05. Appleblim - Vansan
06. Pinch - Qawwali
07. Forsaken - Hypnotise
08. Headhunter - 7th Curse
09. RSD - Pretty Bright Light
10. Komonazmuk - Bad Apple
11. Appleblim & Peverelist - Circling
12. Pinch - Lazarus
13. Forsaken feat. Mr Jo - Into the Sunset
01. Smith & Mighty - B Line Fi Blo
02. Dubboy & Atki2 - Tiger Flower
03. Joker - Holly Brook Park
04. Guido - Mad Sax
05. Hyetal & Shortstuff - Ice Cream
06. Pinch - Get Up (RSD remix)
07. Jakes - 3kout
08. Wedge & Shadz - Running Away (Guido remix)
09. Gemmy - Bass Transmitter
10. Guido - Orchestral Lab
11. Dubkasm - Hail Jah (Jakes remix)
12. Joker - Stuck in the System
13. Hyetal - Pixel Rainbow Sequence